is a small claims court the answer?

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  • is a small claims court the answer?
  • Just wondering if anybody’s been in a similar position – about three years ago, whilst living in Cornwall, we lent five grand to some friends of ours (and no, of course we didnt do the sensible thing and involve a solicitor).
    Since then, we’ve moved back up to Yorkshire, and it’s not rocket science for you to guess the rest. We’ve tried contacting the thieving b******s several times, all of which they’ve ignored. The only proof we have of lending them the money is a bank statement detailing the transfer. Can anybody give any pointers or advice? – and please, I already feel enough of a mug, so go easy on the ‘what were you thinking’ posts.


    Without any written agreement thay will simply turn around and say it was a gift.

    I’m sorry that they betrayed your trust and goodwill.

    Some people really are vile!

    I’d ring an ambulance chaser about a no win no fee type deal.

    If you’re willing to spend another £5000 I’m sure you can find someone in a dodgy pub in Leeds who will sort them out good and proper for you and bring a sense of finality to the problem, if you know what I mean. Nudge. nudge, wink, wink.

    I would try to see them in person. It just might embarass them enough to cough up.

    Premier Icon wwaswas

    I’d try a letter from a solicitor/debt collection agency and see where that gets you.

    might be worth a visit to your local CAB for some real advice though.

    Premier Icon ourmaninthenorth

    Small claims court or a bankruptcy petition. That’ll put the cat amongst the pigeons.


    Yep, I’d turn up unannounced and knock on the door politely…….

    Nah, sawn-off shotgun in the face.

    Jobs a good’un.

    I notice from your profile you are a psychiatric nurse. This can be used to your advantage. Might take a bit of planning, but…

    Arrange to have them sectioned and then get Power of Attourney over them (afterall, your a great friend who helped them before) then sell their house and take what you are owed.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    If you’ve proof of transfer, I’d try small claims court. At the end of the day, they will have to respond, or get a CCJ. It’s not too expensive, and the only time I did it, the person paid up(though it was for work done, rather than a loan). Nothing to lose, but the cost of trying – think it was about £30. The court folk aren’t stupid, and won’t think it likely you gave as a gift.

    Thanks to all – particularly Steve, as this (them trying to claim it was a gift) was my main concern.
    All round to mine for jelly and ice cream when it’s sorted!

    As Steve said – you only have another few quid to lose thu the small claims – go for it


    I’m not sure you can claim as big as £5k in the small claims court, double check.

    Premier Icon Del

    as a prelude to actually going the small claims route, you MUST give them an opportunity to pay, so write a letter, keep a copy, and send it ‘signed for’ so you know that it has been received. give them a ‘reasonable time’, usually considered 7 days, to respond. at that point, if you’re feeling generous, you can give them another chance to settle by sending again. small claims encourage settlements outside of court, so it’s good if you can show that you’ve done your level best before taking it to the next step.
    all being well you can lodge the claim with your local court, and because you’re not a business it will be heard there, so if they want ‘their day’ they will be travelling to yorks for it.
    good luck.


    Got some good advice for you. Pay me 5G and I’ll tell you.

    There is an online equivalent/interface for small claims court called “HM Courts Service Money Claims Online”.

    I recently started the process to scare a client of mine into paying an invoice, but they got the message. It’s pretty simple. There’s a 60 cost incurred which theoretically they are liable for. It’s all explained fairly well on the website.

    Solamanda – £5,000 is the upper limit for small claims court (small claims track)

    fwb2006 – Member
    Got some good advice for you. Pay me 5G and I’ll tell you.

    Guess what I’m thinking – it starts with ‘boll’ and ends with ‘ocks’


    Oo oo oo go on go on go on go on go on, I’ll be your friend. What’s the saying, a fool and their cash are soon parted. No offence meant but did you ask them what the money was for?(this would be a deciding factor to me..)


    What was the money for Mitch?

    My (ex) boss’s husband was running a restaurant in Penzance, and was struggling to borrow more money from his bank – I happened to have just sold my house in Yorkshire, and had the money available to help him out, so there you go.
    And fwb2006 – thanks for calling me a fool, another kick up the bollocks is exactly what I need right now, cheers.


    you will need:

    1) a postcode or address
    2) a satnav or map
    3) some Bombers, (pre 2007, as the newer ones are arse) i would go with 66s myself, 888s are reserved for disputes involving cheating WAGs

    its disgusting how people can treat each other, especially if you trusted them enough to lend them 5k, thats surely enough of an indication to show you consider them friends, not just aquantinces


    No offence dude, but if his business failing and his bank refused to give him anymore credit then there was a reason eh? Have done something similar myself also for a restaurant, however, I refused and the company went (was going no matter what..) bust but then gave the cash to my mate to see him through. Far better use of the money rather than staving off the intevitable.

    Premier Icon BigDummy

    As the OP said, that was a decision he took some time ago, unfortuneately it has not gone well. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

    The small claims stuff is fine, all good advice. Might be worth thinking about whether you’d take a smaller amount if he will man up and admit he owes you the money? Court works (from my limited experience) surprisingly well if you make the time for it.


    Do you know their current financial situ? If he’s employed (i.e no longer self employed) I would be tempted to turn up at his work and ask for it back, infront of co-workers and gaffer.

    Either that or at his front door with a 2′ bar and 5l of unleaded.

    The latter is drastic but generally works.

    i’ve been to court, and won in theory. Now going through the process of trying to get the money.

    Theres a good chance you could win. Someone just listens to both sides of ths story and makes a decision. IN all likelyhood your ex-friend won’t even turn up and you’ll win be default.

    You then face the problem of getting the money. You’re not quite back where you were, as you can now ‘enforce the judgement’. You have to go back to court again and do one of several things
    – order to obtain information – forces them to reveal their bank details.
    – apply to send the bailiffs in – not actually all that useful (lots of regulations!)
    – place a charging order on their property.

    You’ll probably be looking at 200-300 quid in fees at least, and whilst tahts not much in comparison to 5k, bear in mind that if he hasn’t got any money nor any property then you’re not likely to get it back.

    Bear in mind that in your lifetime you’ll earn over a million pounds, and spend nearly the same! 5k is a lot but keep it in perspective.

    Premier Icon BigDummy

    in your lifetime you’ll earn over a million pounds

    Cool. I just need an advance on that and I’m outta here!

    Without being the prophet of doom, winning a small claim is one thing – getting the money is another. If the guy shows the courts that he can only pay £1 per week, that is all he will have to pay and there is not much you can do about it.

    Sending the bailiffs in is only an option if he defaults on a CCJ and then it is a matter for the court to decide, not you.

    Before you go to court you have to show that you made reasonable efforts to collect the debt, including accepting payment in installments.

    Not having anything in writing is not going to help your case either.

    As the post above said if he has no money/ assets you are unlikely to get it back.

    If on the other hand he has some assets and is bothered about his credit rating then court action or the threat of it could be very effective.

    Sorry, I know you wanted positive posts, but I doubt the people offering well meaning advice above have had much experience of chasing slippery feckers through the courts and the expense and frustration it inevitably generates.

    Probably the best thing to do is to find out about his current financial circumstances and decide if it is worth pursuing him or not.


    Premier Icon Sandwich

    Find a debt collector to sell the debt to when the judgement is in. These gentlemen start nice and will eventually find someone to extract the money.

    Going through a similar thing myself, lent friends 🙄 some money to help with mortgage arrears a few years ago, never had a penny back.

    Send them a recorded delivery letter with a deadline for payment, or you will persue it through a court.

    If no success, go on the money claim website and issue a claim against them, make sure you have all their details, address, etc, they then have a certain amount of time to respond to this – they can either defend it or agree they owe the money.

    I issued a claim to both my friend and his wife, neither responded so the judgement went in my favour, then you have options to recover the money – a warrant of execution, an attachment of earnings order, a third party debt order, or a charging order. As I knew they both had an income I issued an attachment of earnings order, this goes to them and they have to answer this and give details of income/employment etc (and they can’t make it up as it has to come from their employer) otherwise the judge may issue a warrant to arrest them.

    The attachment of earnings has been succesful and their employers have to pay money to CAPS (centralised attachment of earnings payment system) which then gets paid to me.

    This has taken about 6 months so far, cost me about £300 which gets added to the amount due, and I even added interest to the amount they borrowed – your right under ‘section 69 of the County Courts Act 1984’ at a rate of 8% a year.

    But, I had my friend sign an agreement before lending the money so had a signature, had the bank statement with transaction details, and knew they both had an income. As mentioned you need to make sure they have some kind of income or savings?

    All the info, help and forms are available on the money claim online website, good help and advice over the phone too. Print and keep copies of everything. I can’t remember the amount you can claim for but mine was more than yours so go for it if you can.

    Good Luck 🙂

    Premier Icon NZCol

    I lent a friend of mine 1K just before i went of overseas. During that time he sort of ‘disappeared’ and my efforts (albeit not massively comprehensive) to find him were prety fruitless. It came to a time when i worked in an investigations company and i got them to track him down. Anyway, rang him up and he was absolutely appalled with his own behaviour, was in fact very successful and gave me 5K back and since then we’ve been in constant touch and do business together. Turns out he had a bit of a mental health issue and lost the plot slightly but got himself back on his feet and is recovered.
    That however doesn’t help you get your 5K back !


    Small claims court works well,mrs kpt has just won her case involving a hair dresser and hair extentions! just make sure you go in well prepared and have as much evidence and documentation as possible to back your case up.The hearing itself is quite informal as there was only the judge and the two parties in the court room – court fees were £175 – this was for the small claims registration and for the hearing and you get all of this back plus expenses etc should you win – good luck

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