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I'm pursuing a claim for about £100 against a company in the UK courts. Both sides agree that this should be allocated to the Small Claims track.

I'm on the south coast, the defendant is based in London, and the defendant's agent who actually overcharged me is based in Luton (near London). However the defendant has retained a solicitor in Liverpool, in the north of England, and has asked for the hearing to be held up there.

The train fare alone is likely to exceed the amount in question, and depending on the times I may have to stay overnight. The same is likely to apply if the hearing is down south and their solicitor has to travel from Liverpool to attend.

Is the hearing likely to be up in Liverpool merely on the strength of their chosen solicitor?

Conversely, if the hearing is allocated to my local court, or a London one, is other side going to be able to claim the cost of time and travel for a solicitor to come all the way down from Liverpool, given that they chose to hire a solicitor from so far away?

Edit, in response to comments:

  • I'm doing this as a test case for a large group of people who have all been overcharged in the same way. Hence I'm prepared to go to all this trouble over a comparatively small amount for me individually because it adds up to several thousand over the group.

  • The claim has been filed on-line with the Northampton County Court Business Centre, from where it will be allocated to a local court. I've asked for my local one and the solicitors in Liverpool have asked for their local one.

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Venue

The location where you file the claim is the court that will hear it unless:

  • you both agree
  • the judge orders a different venue based on submissions from the parties (unlikely in a small claim)

Costs

Costs awards in small claims are rare and generally do not extend to the legal fees and if they do, the amount is capped. Costs for reasonable expenses of witnesses are slightly more common.

In general, costs are limited to what is reasonable - to get the costs of travel and accommodation for the Liverpool solicitor, the party would have to argue that there was no available equivalent representation available locally. This might be arguable if you need a QC expert in say, international maritime law, it seems unlikely for a small claims matter.

Personal Comment

Don't go to court for £100 - settle the damn thing or walk away. In the time and worry you spend on it you could earn that sum five times over.

  • On the personal comment: normally I already would have, but this is actually a test case for a large number of people who were all over-charged in the same way. If I do settle, it will be on the basis that they offer the same settlement to everyone. – Paul Johnson Feb 27 at 8:38
  • The claim has been filed on-line with the Northampton County Court Business Centre, from where it will be allocated to a local court. I've asked for my local one, the solicitors in Liverpool have asked for their local one. – Paul Johnson Feb 27 at 8:40

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