One little understood area of financial law is the financial dispute – what you can do when somebody owes you money. This could mean a business that has ripped you off, or an individual who hasn’t repaid a debt. Either way, there’s a set process for helping you get your money back.
Before we take a look at how you actually raise a financial dispute, there are a couple of important things to be aware of. Firstly, this is only applicable for claims of up to £10,000 in England and Wales, £5,000 in Scotland and £3,000 in Northern Ireland. For larger claims you would need to attend a formal hearing.
It’s also important that you try to settle the dispute yourself before resorting to court proceedings. This would mean notifying the person or business that they owe you money and that you intend to claim it back, and trying to work with them to agree a repayment plan. You should write to them, clearly outlining how much you believe you’re owed, why you believe this, how you would like the matter to be resolved (e.g. repayment), and a deadline for the other person to respond or start paying you back.
If you fail to do the above, it may harm your case when the matter goes to court. It’s important that you do this in writing so that you have a record of it, and that you give them enough time to respond before taking the matter further.
Making your claim
Once you’ve taken the steps that we’ve outlined and failed to receive any repayments, you can make what’s called a money claim. This can be done through the Government’s online portal, which allows you to check your eligibility for making a claim and submit the relevant paperwork – all online. When you submit the form you’ll also need to pay a fee: the amount that you’re charged will depend on the amount that you’re claiming. The fee is slightly less if you go through the online form rather than submitting a paper claim.
Once the claim has been made, the person who owes you money will be given 14 days to respond. They may choose to pay you the money, or they may offer to repay you through instalments. If they make this kind of offer, it may be wise to accept so that you can avoid going to court.
They may also choose to dispute the claim – in which case the matter will go to court. You’ll be given a form to complete with details of the claim, and you’ll also need to submit evidence to show how much you’re owed. You don’t have to consult with a solicitor, but if you’re unsure about the process or claiming a large sum of money then it may be advisable. A legal representative will be able to give you tailored advice that’s applicable to your unique circumstances.
Finally, the judge will decide whether to award the claim. If they rule in your favour, the defendant will be expected to pay up within a set time frame – usually one month.