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Which? Survey Reveals Small Claims Confusion
Consumer Disputes & Rights.
When you purchase items or services from a business they have a duty to ensure that any goods are fit for purpose and comply with all trading standard regulations. If they fail in this duty and refuse to put things right, this is where a consumer dispute can arise.
With any consumer disputes it is important to get guidance and be clear about your consumer rights. Knowing your rights and having a clear understanding of the various legal options open to you can help get the problem rectified.
What problems are classed as a consumer dispute?
Almost any purchase involving goods or services in the UK are covered under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 including :
- Being sold faulty electrical goods
- Furniture that is substandard quality or not as described
- Non-delivery of goods bought online
- New motor vehicles that are defective
- Poor quality work from tradesman (builders, plumbers, electricians etc.)
- Service or product warranty disputes
- Disputes over insurance claims or coverage
- Refund problems with hotels, airlines and tour operators
Enforcing your consumer rights.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 provides you with statutory rights so that any item you buy must be fit for purpose, of satisfactory quality and match the description given when it was sold.
If these rights are breached then you may have a claim against the retailer or supplier. A core element of your consumer rights is your right to reject where you have 30 days from the date you take delivery or ownership of the item to reject the product and get a full refund, repair or replacement. So never put off dealing with a problem
Often retailers will put things right when you first inform them of the problem, but if this doesn’t occur then you need to be aware of your next options which generally are:
- Go through the company’s complaints procedure
- Escalate the issue to an Ombudsman (if available)
- Make a claim in the small claims court
We've created various guides to help you through this process which can be found and downloaded at the bottom of this page.
How to make a claim in the Small Claims Court.
Issuing a small claim allows you to take legal action against a company or individual who you have a dispute with and been left out of pocket.
Whether you want to settle a dispute, gain compensation for what you have spent to put things right or simply recover money owed to you, making a small claim could help you reach a solution if all other attempts to resolve have failed.
What can I make a small claim for?
Obtain a refund after being sold faulty or unsuitable goods from a retail shop, online or a private individual.
Compensation for services that were not to an appropriate standard, to your satisfaction or the agreed contract. E.g. building work, car repairs, equipment installation etc.
Recover overdue debts and the related interest from a loan you have made to an individual or business.
Court proceedings should always be a last resort in trying to resolve any dispute. However if letters and complaints aren't getting you anywhere then the small claim process can help you achieve a settlement without incurring huge legal fees.
When starting a small claim you should always be prepared to ultimately go to a court hearing, but the whole process is designed for you to reach agreement before it gets that far. For your case to be suitable for a small claim its total financial value must be less than £10,000.
Advantages and Risks of making a small claim
Advantages of making a small claim:
- More difficult for the other party to ignore than a complaint letter or call
- Can be done online with fixed fees, and if you win your opponent will have to repay the fixed fees back to you
Risks involved with a small claim:
- If you lose you may have to pay the expenses of the other party
- If the court approves an expert to be used you may have to contribute to their fees if you lose
Our guide to resolving a dispute and making a small claim
The small claims process is designed so that it can be undertaken by individuals without the need for a solicitor, however in practice the process can be complex and time-consuming. To help you we provide free guides on submitting a claim yourself as well as fixed fee services to help with specific legal areas such as drafting a letter before action.
Find out more by visiting our guides below.
'No Win No Fee' subject to entering into an agreement with a suitable insurance policy and complying with your responsibilities under its terms.