Step seven: Preparing for the court hearing – checklist
If a judge decides that your consumer claim should be heard in court you will be told what you need to do to prepare for the case. These are called standard directions. For example, they will say how many witnesses can give evidence and whether they’ll need to come to the hearing. They'll also recommend a list of paperwork that you should bring with you.
You and the trader will be expected to agree on one set of evidence that will be presented so that you both save time and money in preparing it.
It’s up to you to check that you understand what needs to be done and by when. If you miss deadlines you risk affecting the outcome of the case.
If you don't prepare well for the hearing and there are unnecessary delays on the day, the court may order you to pay extra costs.
Check deadlines for returning forms
Make sure you stick to deadlines. If you hold up the court process by sending forms back late, the court may award you less money or order you to pay extra costs.
Get your paperwork in order
Make sure you have all the original documents in date order. You’ll have to take these to the hearing and make copies available to the court and the trader.
Co-operate with the trader at all times
If the judge thinks you’re behaving unreasonably, they can impose penalties. For example they can award you less money if you win your case or make you pay extra costs.
Think before you get an expert opinion
Don’t get an expert opinion without the court’s permission. If the court thinks you need one, they will usually ask you and the trader to share the costs of getting one.
Check on your witnesses
If the court has allowed you to call witnesses or experts, make sure they are able to come along to the hearing, they know what time it is and where it is being held. If they are late or don't show up, the court can order you to pay extra costs for wasting time.
Carry out instructions from the court
Make sure you are aware of any standard directions that apply to your case. Standard directions are the things the court asks you to do and information you'll need to collect before the hearing. This includes written contracts, invoices or estimates. There are specific standard directions for building disputes, goods sold and vehicle repairs, holiday claims and wedding claims.
Check for any special instructions for your case
The court may give you special directions about things you need to do before the hearing that only apply to your case. Make sure you understand what they are and ask questions if you don’t.
Tell the court if you and the trader agree to settle
Tell the court if you and the trader agree to settle your claim before the hearing date.
Arrange an interpreter
If English is not your first language, you may need an interpreter. Make sure you find someone before the hearing as the court will not be able to provide one for you.
Check access is suitable
If you have a disability, contact the court office and ask to hold the hearing in a room where it's easy for you to get access.
If you're deaf or hard of hearing, you can phone the court minicom service on 0191 478 1476 to arrange what you'll need for the hearing.
You can find a guide to making small claims on GOV.UK.