Law guide: Complaints and disputes

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Making a claim (Northern Ireland)

Making a claim (Northern Ireland)

Where do I start my claim?

This will depend on the value of your claim.

The small claims courts allow certain types of claims to be decided informally by the county court, usually without the need of a solicitor or barrister. In general, a small claim is one where the value to be claimed is not more than £3,000 and which does not relate to:

  • Personal injuries
  • Road traffic accidents
  • Libel or slander
  • Title to land
  • Legacy or annuity
  • Any property of a marriage

The small claims court limit is £3,000. It is important that all issues between parties are brought to court by the one claim and resolved at the one hearing. You should not divide your claim into several applications, even if the total is less than £3,000 (you may not be able to recover the court fees paid).

If the total sum at issue between the same parties exceeds £3,000, the claimant must either proceed by abandoning any amount due over £3,000 (this will be expressly noted) or issue a civil bill (up to £30,000). A civil bill is the document that is required to start proceedings in a county court.

If a subsequent claim is made between similar parties arising out of the same set of facts or law, then the later proceedings may well be dismissed as an abuse of process.

There are 2 types of small claim:

  • Liquidated - where the amount of the claim is set, for example, loans or goods and services not paid for
  • Unliquidated - where the amount is estimated, for example, damage to property, faulty goods or workmanship

Should your claim exceed £3,000, it is suggested that you take legal advice on commencing proceedings within Northern Ireland, especially if the matter may be defended. The matter will either be dealt with in the county court, limited to £30,000 or High Court, if the claim is over £30,000.

How do I start my claim?

If your claim is for £3,000 and under, you can apply online at Northern Ireland Court Service to commence your claim securely online. For any claim over this amount, seek legal advice.

You can also obtain an application form from your local court, Citizen's Advice Bureau, Trading Standards Office or local advice centre, the paper application will advise you where to return the form and what fees to include.


You can claim interest on the money the defendant owes you. If you want to claim interest, you must include it in your particulars of claim.

Write your claim in the following way:

'The applicant claims interest at the rate of 8% a year, from [date when the money became owed to you] to [the date you are issuing the claim] of £[put in the amount] and also interest at the same rate up to the date of judgment or earlier payment at a daily rate of [enter the daily rate of interest].'

Working out interest

Simple formula to calculate interest:

Debt x Interest Rate x Number of days outstanding / 365

The total figure for interest and the amount you're claiming must be entered in the amount claimed box within the claim form.

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