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Step two: Starting your court claim

This advice applies to England

Before you start your consumer claim in the county court, you will have to write a letter before action. If you don’t agree with the response to your letter before action, and other attempts to sort out the problem have failed, you can start court action.

If you think you may be able to sort your problem out without going to court, you can still start a claim but ask the court to put it on hold while you try find a solution. Pausing your claim is free if you're using the small claims court. If discussions don't work out with the trader, you can continue with the claim.

This page tells you what forms you need to fill in and how to make a claim online or on paper.

Court forms

To issue a claim against the trader, you'll need to use pre-printed court forms. You have a choice about how you would like to issue the claim to the trader. Which one you choose depends on how much your claim is for and the method you prefer. You can issue the claim online or on paper.

Online claims

If you are claiming a fixed amount of money of less than £100,000, you can use the HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) Money Claim Online (MCOL) at

You fill in the form online and then send it back electronically. Online claims are dealt with centrally by Northampton County Court. Usually the forms are printed and posted to the trader on the next working day after you send your claim.

You have to pay the court fees by credit or debit card and fees are cheaper than if you issue a claim on paper.

For a list of the latest court fees, go to:

The case will usually be sent on to your local county court. Sometimes the case may be heard in the trader's local court, or if you’re trying to get back goods, in the court where the goods are being kept.

Help with court fees if you're on a low income

If you’re on a low income you may pay reduced fees or none at all. This is known as fee remission. If this is the case you can’t make a claim online. To find out whether you will have to pay, you can download the leaflet EX160A: Court Fees: Do I have to pay them? at

Paper claims

If you want to issue a claim on paper, you need to fill in the right claim form. For most consumer claims, you'll need to fill in form N1 (part 7).

You can download one from the HMCTS website at or you can get the form from your local court. If you're not sure where your local court is, use the online court finder service at

You’ll have to make a copy for the trader and one for the court.

When you've filled out the form, you need to send it to the following address:

County Court Money Claims Centre
PO Box 527
M5 0BY

Tel: 0300 123 1372 (Mon to Fri: 8.30am to 5pm)

Make sure that you keep a copy for your records. The case will be looked at and then sent on to your local court, or sometimes to the trader's local court to be heard.

If you're having trouble filling out the form, a CAB adviser will be able to help you complete the paperwork.

Talking to the court by e-mail

Courts won't accept claims filed by email because you have to pay a fee. However, some county courts will allow you to send supporting documents by email. To check what documents you can email to your local court go to HMCTS website at:

Remember, anything written in an email may not be secure so don’t send documents that contain confidential or sensitive information.

If you email documents after 4pm, they won’t be counted as being filed until the next working day. It’s important to remember this if you’re trying to meet deadlines.

You won’t need to send an extra hard copy in the post

Next steps

Other useful information

  • More information on making a court claim for money at
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