“ This official Court Service website enables ordinary citizens to make a County Court Claim on the internet „
just used this system to claim money from an work agency i worked for, after 2 weeks they only paid part of what i was asking for, so i filed for a judgement after 14 days and was granted, they then paid the full amount straight away (plus costs), i think the CCJ on there records did it, they wanted it off (they have 28 days to pay, so they can remove it)well worth it and for £25 (£35 in my case) it's worth it just for the CCJ on their records, very easy to use and in my case worth it. thanks guy's
A truly diabolical invention. The system is so bad, even the staff at MCOL advise you to use the normal court procedure. Their website is full of bugs, is unclear, and designed by idiots. The staff on the helpdesk, when they pick up the phone after 30 minutes of waiting, are (and I am quoting Jane Hurley from the Courts Service here) 'not legally trained' and 'are directed to terminate any call that they fell uncomfortable with'. Great. So justice doesn't matter as long as the telephonists are happy and can hang up if presented with anything that challenges their total lack of specialised knowledge.
The MCOL system is a farce. At present, and after six months, I received one judgment which went against me because they didn't get round to reviewing it until after the date I had requested for payment from the defendant. In other words they dismissed it on a technicality caused by their own website. When I complained, they reopened the case and it is currently marked on their website as 'judgment issued' although the website won't tell me what the judgment was, and in whose favour. And despite repeated efforts I can't get anyone from MCOL or the Courts Complaints system to pick up the phone and explain it.
Take my advice and save yourself a lot of time and sue someone through the normal court. At least you get to speak to human beings.
This is an opinion about Moneyclaim Online which can be found at http://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk -------------------------------- The name of this website, Moneyclaim Online, suggests a dodgy accident compensation service, like Claims Direct and all the other legal vultures who are pushing up our insurance premiums. But Moneyclaim.gov.uk is actually a website produced by our own wonderful government. To be more specific this website is run by the Court Service of England and Wales, the people who do such a fine job of punishing all the baddies out there. I stumbled upon Moneyclaim Online earlier this year when I was planning to sue Wilcon Homes over the faulty boiler in my house (that's a whole story in itself which you can read more about in my op about Wilcon Homes). I have sued a few people in the past; most notably NTL when they used to be called Cable & Wireless, and a dealer who sold me a car which I later found out was an accident write-off. I don't suffer fools (or crooks) gladly. On both of these previous occasions I won my case, although I had found the system to be intimidating and rather bewildering for ordinary people (or the 'information underclass' as we are sometimes labelled - those of us who didn't go to public school and don't have dinner parties with friends in high places). I am pleased to say, however, that the internet has changed the way in which ordinary folk can access justice. Or perhaps 'revolutionised' would be a better word. Although I have a very low opinion of Mr Blair and the New Labour machine, I feel that credit is due in one area. Several years ago Blair vowed that all government departments should be made more accessible to the public via the modern miracle of the worldwide web. This was one promise that Blair actually delivered - and the website I am reviewing is a good example of how Joe Public has been empowered with greater access to the "
system". From what I can gather, Moneyclaim Online was only launched last year (2001). Before this time you had to go to your nearest county court in person and obtain forms and leaflets if you wanted to sue someone. From my experience these courts were far from user-friendly. They were designed for solicitors who knew the way things worked - information was sparse and the staff were unhelpful at the best of times. Anyone entering the court building without formal dress was treated in a sneering and condescending manner. But all that has changed. Whether you're looking for recompense from a crooked builder, or trying to get someone to pay you back a debt, you can now launch a county court claim from the comfort of your own home. Taking legal action against somebody need not be as daunting or expensive as you may think. And you don't need to pay a solicitor in order to sue someone (although I would still recommend getting good legal advice if you're unsure about the chance of your claim succeeding). As every case will be unique, I can not give an exhaustive guide to suing, nor can I give a guarantee that you will win, but hopefully I can give you a clear idea of how to use Moneyclaim Online. You have to pay a fee to use the service (the fees are identical to the conventional snail mail method of issuing a claim), but the fee will be relatively small in relation to the amount you are claiming for, and will have to be refunded by the defendant if your claim is successful. The court fees are on a sliding scale but work out very roughly at 10% of the amount you are claiming, eg. a claim for between £1000-£5000 will cost you £115. If your claim is below £5000, the court will automatically allocate the case to the 'small claims track' which is a basically a more informal way of dealing with it. Crucially you are going to need evidence. In a county court, the rules of evidence are not as formal as in a criminal co
urt, so the judge is going to take a "common sense" look at the plausibility of the evidence presented by each party. Typical forms of evidence used in county courts are professional written reports, photographs and written statements from witnesses. You must be able to show that you gave the defendant a reasonable opportunity to settle the matter outside court. Keep a written log of every time you phoned or wrote to them. Send at least one letter to the defendant by Recorded Delivery (this will cost you 90p at any Post Office) in which you clearly outline the situation and set them a reasonable time in which to act, ideally 14 days. Clearly state that you are going to issue a County Court Claim against them unless they act within this time limit. Keep the Recorded Delivery receipt and a copy of the letter - these will form part of your evidence in court, in case the defendant denies that you gave them a fair chance to sort things out. When you are ready to make your claim, log on to www.moneyclaim.gov.uk and register for a username and password. You then fill in a series of simple forms, providing information about yourself and the person you are suing. Finally you are asked to write the "Particulars of Claim" in less than 1080 characters, so keep it very concise and to the point. At this stage you only have to give an outline of the basic details of your claim, so limit it to a few sentences. You will have chance to go into more detail later on. The website then collects your payment of the court fee by credit or debit card. Once you're done, the claim will be posted off to the defendant at 10.00am the next working day. You will notice that your claim is issued by Northampton County Court who issue all online claims. The defendant will be given 14 days to respond. They may buy extra time for themselves by issuing an acknowledgement of service, which gives them a further 14 days to consider their options. If the defendant files a de
fence then you will have to pay an extra £80 for an "allocation questionnaire" which is basically the next step in the process (but it's free if your claim is below £1000). Again, this £80 will have to be refunded by the defendant if your claim is successful. Whether you decide to settle outside court, or go to a hearing, is entirely up to you, but remember that you can drop the claim at any moment until the day of the hearing. If you are suing a company, and the case goes to a hearing, then you should make sure the case is heard at the court nearest to you. Private individuals are given this advantage when suing a registered company. You will need to ask the court to transfer the case to your nearest County Court - they will do this free of charge. To find out the address of your nearest County Court, visit www.courtservice.gov.uk/notices/county/ccadd/circuits.htm (this does not apply, however, if you are suing an individual person - the case will be automatically be heard at THEIR nearest courtroom). If your claim is successful, either because you won the court hearing, or simply because the defendant entered no response to your claim, you can progress the case online by applying for a warrant of execution. Basically this means the court bailiffs pay a visit to your defendant to seize goods which they sell at auction in order to pay you what you are owed. I found the website extremely easy to use. For any of you who are familiar with internet banking, the interface is a similar kind of thing: a status bar displays the current progress of your claim (ie. Claim Issued, Acknowledgement Filed, Judgement Issued, Warrant Issued, etc.). All the terminology on the website is written in plain English, rather than legalspeak, which I found pleasing. The website includes a user guide, and each stage in the process is accompanied by a 'Help' button which gives you a pop-up window containing a text based explanation. Moneyclaim
Online also has a helpdesk telephone number (charged at 0845 local rate) in case you get stuck at any point. I used the helpdesk on one occasion when I had a query and I found the staff to be prompt at answering the phone and extremely helpful. As I mentioned earlier, I sued Wilcon Homes using Moneyclaim Online. I won the case by default because they did not enter a defence before the 14-day deadline, and I was able to complete the whole process through my computer without putting pen to paper. When my claim reached the stage at which I requested judgement, I was particularly impressed to see a feature on the site which enabled the claimant to add interest to the amount claimed. The website automatically calculates the interest at the current Bank of England rate. It was only about three pounds but I thought this was a great little touch which you would not get with the old paper-based system. Wilcon Homes paid me the full amount without a fight, which was slightly disappointing as I had been looking forward to pressing the 'Send Bailiffs' button! I think this website is a breakthrough in the way ordinary people can access the legal system, which until now has been elitist, old-fashioned and arrogant. It's just a shame that nobody seems to know about the existence of this website - as far as I know it has not been advertised anywhere. I hope this has been of some use to you. If you have any feedback on this opinion, or are aware of anything I have left out, please let me know. By the way, the website points out that you are strictly forbidden to use the service if you have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act - take note deano!