Justice Minister Naomi Long has increased the upper limit for claims which can be heard in the small claims court.
From today, the maximum value of a claims which can be heard in the small claims court increases from £3,000 to £5,000.
The increase was brought forward following consideration of responses to a public consultation on increasing the general civil jurisdiction of the county court. Legal provision for the increase was made by in the County Courts (Financial Limits) Order (Northern Ireland) 2022 earlier this year, and comes into operation today.
Naomi Long said: “I am delighted that the maximum value of claims to the small claims court today increases from £3,000 to £5,000.
I want the system for making civil claims to be as efficient as possible by ensuring that cases are heard in the right court setting, consistent with their complexity and relative value.
“The small claims court is designed to bring speedy resolution for citizens in lower value cases. Increasing the maximum financial value of claims which that court can hear helps to ensure a more accessible justice system, supporting litigants who may not otherwise wish to pursue a claim in the county court.”
Notes to editors:
1. The small claims court is a separate court within the county court presided over by a District Judge. While it hears a range of civil claims, it excludes personal injury, road traffic injury claims, defamation (libel & slander), gifts made under a will, the ownership of land, or the property rights of married couples.
2. The small claims court is much more informal than the county court, and is designed to quickly bring resolution to issues between parties.
3. The Department of Justice has the power under Article 22 of the County Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1980 to increase the jurisdiction of the small claims court, subject to consultation with the Lady Chief Justice.
4. The public consultation “A consultation on increasing the general civil jurisdiction of the county courts in Northern Ireland” was published on 4 February 2021. The summary of consultation responses and next steps was published on 23 November 2021.
5. Media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office via Email
6. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
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