The Small Claims procedure
The Small Claims procedure is a relatively cheap, fast and easy way for consumers to resolve some types of disputes, generally without having to use a solicitor.
If you have complained to the retailer or service provider and they won’t remedy the situation, one option could be the Small Claims procedure.
The application fee is €25 which is non-refundable, and the service is provided in your local district court office.
Are you eligible?
You can use the Small Claims procedure if your claim is for €2,000 or less. Only certain claims can be brought using the Small Claims procedure. You can make a claim if you are:
- A consumer, making a claim for goods or services bought for private use from someone selling them as part of a business
- A business, making a claim for goods or services bought for business use from someone selling them as part of a business
- Making a claim for minor damage to property
- Making a claim if a rent deposit for certain kinds of rented properties has not been returned. For example, a holiday home or a room / flat in a premises where the owner also lives.
The claim cannot be one in relation to an agreement covered under the Consumer Credit Act 1995. Examples of this include: hire purchase agreements, loans and credit cards.
The small claims procedure doesn't deal with debts, personal injuries or breaches of leasing agreements. It also does not deal with most claims about private rental properties - except those mentioned above. Claims about most private rented properties are handled by the Private Residential Tenancies Board.
Claims can be made for faulty goods, bad workmanship or minor damage to property, but before you make a claim, be sure to know your rights. You should also check with the Registrar before you submit a claim through the Small Claims procedure to make sure they look at your type of issue.
Since 1 January 2009 consumers can also use the Small Claims procedure in Ireland to make a claim against a business based elsewhere in the EU (except Denmark).
How to make a claim
You can lodge your claim online at courts.ie, or download the Small Claim application form from the site. You must give details of the claimant (you), the respondent (the business), the amount claimed and the details of your claim.
Remember, if the respondent is a company rather than a person, you should try to get the correct name of the company from the Companies Registration Office.
Complete the application and pay the €25 non-refundable fee. You must submit the form to the District Court of the district in which the contract was made.
What happens next
A District Court Clerk, called the Small Claims Registrar, will process your claim. The Registrar will tell the business you are making a claim. The business must then reply within 15 days, otherwise the claim will be automatically treated as undisputed.
If the claim is undisputed, the District Court will make an order in your favour - without you having to attend court - for the amount claimed, and tell the business that they must pay you within a specific period of time.
If the business does reply to your claim, it has a few options, such as
- ·Admitting the claim and paying you immediately
- ·Making the payment conditional (for example, on you returning some faulty goods)
- ·Asking if they can pay you the claimed amount in instalments
- ·Disputing the claim or counter-claiming (claiming against you)
Appealing a decision
If you are not satisfied with the decision of the Smalls Claims Court, you can appeal this to the Circuit Court. You may need to seek legal advice in this case. You must submit your appeal application within 14 calendar days of the court hearing. You can find out more information on courts.ie.
Consumers in Ireland can make cross-borders claims against businesses in other EU countries through the Small Claims procedure.
You can make claims of up to €2,000 against product and service providers in other EU states (except Denmark) through your local District Court, even though the item was purchased in another EU country. It costs €25 to make a claim. For further information, contact the European Consumer Centre in Dublin.