The small claims procedure:
This is an alternative method of commencing and dealing with a civil proceeding in respect of a small claim. It is provided for under the District Court (Small Claims Procedure) Rules, 1997 & 1999 as amended by Statutory Instrument Nos. 519 of 2009 and 17 of 2014, Order 53A.
The service is provided by District Court offices and is designed to handle consumer claims and business claims cheaply without involving a solicitor.
To be eligible to use the procedure, you, the 'consumer' must have bought the goods or services (or the service) for private use from someone selling them in the course of business. For example, you can make a claim for the cost of faulty goods or for bad workmanship. You cannot make a claim for money you lent someone.
As a 'business' you must have bought the goods or services (or the service) for use in business from someone selling them in the course of business. You cannot make a claim for money you are owed for work done or services rendered and you cannot make a claim against an individual.
The District Court Clerk, called the Small Claims Registrar, processes small claims.
Where possible, the registrar will negotiate a settlement without the need for a court hearing. If the matter cannot be settled the registrar will bring your claim before the District Court.
The type of claims dealt with:
(a) a claim for goods or services bought for private use from someone selling them in the course of a business (consumer claims) (for example, claims for faulty goods or bad workmanship)
(b) a claim for goods or services bought for business use from someone selling them in the course of a business (business claims)
(c) a claim for minor damage to property (but excluding personal injuries)
(d) a claim for the non-return of a rent deposit for certain kinds of rented properties. For example, a holiday home or a room / flat in a premises where the owner also lives provided that a claim does not exceed €2,000.
Claims in respect of other matters relating to rented accommodation must be brought to: Residential Tenancies Board, PO Box 47, Clonakilty, Co. Cork. Website: www.rtb.ie
Excluded from the small claims procedure are claims arising from:
(a) agreements to which the Consumer Credit Act 1995 applies (including credit agreements, hire-purchase agreements and consumer-hire agreements)
(b) a breach of a leasing agreement
(c) debts or liquidated damages.
A word of warning
Deciding on whether or not to make a claim is a matter for yourself and only you can be the judge of that.
In making a claim you must be sure of the name and address of the person or company against whom you want to make a claim. These details must be accurate in order to enable the Sheriff to execute the court order (decree).
When a respondent is a company, rather than an individual, it is important to ascertainthe correct title of the company. This may be obtained from the Companies Registration Office, telephone no. 01- 8045200/1, or Lo Call 1890 220 226.
Clarifying this may entail some research on your part.
Remember, there is little satisfaction to be gained from winning your case if the respondent has no money to pay a judgment debt.
Consider carefully before deciding to make a small claim but remember that the procedure is there to help you to make your small claim with a minimum of procedural red tape and at little cost.
If you would like more details of the procedure before making your application see our Small Claims Procedure section