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The Small Claims procedure is an alternative method of commencing and dealing with a civil proceeding in respect of a small claim and is provided for under the District Court (Small Claims Procedure) Rules, 1997 & 1999 as amended by Statutory Instrument No. 519 of 2009, Order 53A.

It is a service 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.  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.

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.

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)

(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: Private Residential Tenancies Board, 2nd Floor, O'Connell Bridge House, D'Olier Street, Dublin 2. Website: www.prtb.ie

Excluded from the small claims procedure are claims arising from:

(a) a hire-purchase agreement

(b) a breach of a leasing agreement

(c) debts

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 ascertain the correct title of the company. This may be obtained from the Companies Registration Office, telephone no. 01- 804 5200/1, 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.