Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke recently announced proposals to change the maximum limit for claims that go through the small claims court from £5,000 to £15,000.
This is part of a wide review which will include proposals to ensure that the court is able to tackle those debtors who won't pay their debts, whilst ensuring that those who can't pay are protected.
He is also proposing a number of ways to tighten enforcement techniques – for example making it more difficult for debtors to stop money from being frozen by putting it in different accounts. These proposed reforms to the court enforcement system were part of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.
You can view and take part in the consultation on country court reform on the Ministry of Justice website.
I certainly welcome a review that will support creditors recovering unpaid debt from the “won’t pays”, which is the majority of the debtors we enforce against at The Sheriffs Office
Small Claims Court
Will the raising of the upper limit make any difference? I don’t anticipate that it will. As a County Court Judgment is issued when a claimant uses the small claims procedure (or Money Claim Online), it will still be a judgment that can be transferred to the High Court for enforcement by firms such as The Sheriffs Office (as long as the judgment is for £600 or more).
It should provide a great deal of support to creditors, though, as the process is simpler than the standard County Court process, and generally faster as well.