There are a number of things you should do first:
- Check the claim is against you – it is possible that the claim may have been sent to your address in error and that it relates to a former occupier of your home or business premises. If this is the case, you should notify either the relevant county court or claimant (or both) that the person to whom the claim is addressed no longer lives at that address.
- If the claim is correctly addressed to you, you should contact the county court which has issued the claim (this will be on the top of the claim form and will most likely be either the county court money claims centre (CCMCC) or the county court business centre (CCBC)) to find out the deemed date of service of the claim form. The court’s contact details will be in the accompanying paperwork to the claim form. If they are not, you can find their details on the internet. You should inform the court that you have received a claim and give them the details of the claim number and parties. They will then be able to confirm the deemed date of service of the claim form upon you.
- The claim form should be accompanied by a response pack made up of several documents for acknowledging service of the claim form and also forms to confirm whether you wish to defend the claim or whether you admit the claim and monies owed but want to offer to pay the debt instalments.
If you admit the claim in full
If you admit that the sums claimed by the claimant from you are properly due and payable to the claimant and wish to pay them, then you should complete and return the admissions form (Form 9A) which is included in the response pack. This will provide you with an opportunity to put forward any payment proposals you may wish to make, such as payment by way of instalments.
If you admit part of the claim
If you admit that some monies are owed to the claimant, but not the full amount that he or she is claiming, then you will need to complete and return both the admissions form (N9A) and the defence Form (N9B). You will need to carefully set out which parts of the claim are admitted and which parts you intend to defend and the reasons why you say that these parts of the claim are not admitted.
If you need further time in which to prepare your defence, you should also complete and return the acknowledgment of service form (which forms part of Form N9), ticking the box to indicate that you intend to defend part of the claim.
If you intend to defend the claim in full
If you dispute the claimant’s claim against you, you should complete and return the defence form (Form N9B)
Again, if you need further time in which to prepare your defence, you should also complete and return the acknowledgment of service form (which forms part of Form N9), ticking the box to indicate that you intend to defend all of the claim.
The Acknowledgment of Service
If you receive a claim form, you only have 14 days from the deemed date of service in which to notify the court whether you admit the claim or whether you wish to defend the claim (either in part or in full).
If you wish to defend the claim (in part or in full), you must complete and return the acknowledgment of service form to the court within 14 days of the deemed date of service of the claim form. This document forms part of the Response Pack and is contained in the bottom half of Form N9.
You do not have to provide a copy of the acknowledgment of service form to the claimant, as the court should inform the claimant that the claim is being defended. However, you may wish to send a copy of the acknowledgment of Service to the claimant, by way of information.
If you complete and return the acknowledgment of Service, it then allows you a further 14 days in which to prepare your defence, in effect giving you 28 days from the date of deemed service of the claim form for you to prepare and serve your defence.
This should provide you with sufficient time to gather any paperwork together and to prepare a defence or alternatively to instruct solicitors to prepare a defence on your behalf.
It may be possible for your solicitors to agree a further extension of time with the claimant or his solicitors for your defence, but this will not be possible if you do not return the acknowledgment of service form.
Please contact one of our expert county court lawyers now for your informal and friendly consultation. At Francis Wilks & Jones, we have all the county court experience needed to handle any type of county court problem. We offer quick and effective county court advice, whatever your situation. Don’t delay. Call now for a friendly consultation.