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After the court hearing

This advice applies to Wales

At the end of the court hearing, the judge makes a decision about what should happen. This is called giving a judgment.

The judge can order the losing side to pay any money that's owed to the winning side. If the losing side pays the money straightaway, the matter is settled.

But if the money isn't paid straightaway, the order will be put into the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines. This can make it more difficult to get credit in the future.

When the judge makes the order, the winning side needs to tell the judge if they want to claim back the costs of going to court. The judge won't automatically order the losing side to pay costs.

This page tells you more about what happens if you win, when you can appeal against a decision and what you can do if the trader doesn't pay.

If you win

If you win your case, the court will draw up a court order that legally requires the trader to pay you or to put right what you asked for, for example, return or replace goods.

Depending on the outcome of the case and what you were claiming for, the trader might get an order to:

  • pay compensation, either as a lump sum or in instalments
  • pay money that's owed to you, either as a lump sum or in instalments
  • return goods to you
  • make no payment.

If you lose

If you lose the case, you may have to pay the trader's costs if they ask the court for them to be paid. You'll also have to keep to the terms of any court orders that the judge makes against you.

Claiming interest after judgment

If the judgment is for less than £5,000 you won't be able to claim interest from the date the order is made to the date when you are paid by the trader.

If you are claiming more than £5,000, you are entitled to:

  • interest up to the date of the order
  • interest from the date the order is made to the date you get your money.

If a trader has to pay you in instalments, you will only be able to claim interest if they miss payments.

Claiming costs

If you win your case, the trader may have to pay your costs if you tell the court that you want to the money paid back to you. In the small claims track, the costs are limited.

However, the court can order that you get none or only some of the costs back if they think that you didn't co-operate with the trader, or that you caused any unnecessary delay or expense.

The costs you can claim for include:

  • any court fees you've had to pay
  • wages, holiday pay or other loss of earnings that you or any witnesses have lost because you’ve had to attend the hearing. There is a maximum limit of £50 per person
  • if you paid for an expert witness to prepare a report, a maximum fee of up to £200
  • any reasonable expenses you or witnesses have had to pay to attend court, such as fares and hotel costs
  • costs ordered by the judge if the trader behaved unreasonably.

Claiming solicitor's costs

The only solicitor's costs you can claim in the small claims track are:

  • the fixed solicitor's costs for issuing the claim, which you put on the claim form
  • the costs of enforcing a court order if the trader doesn't pay you
  • the costs of legal advice and preparing the case up to £260 if you are claiming that the trader must put something right, rather than pay you compensation. This is called specific performance
  • costs where your case was sent to the small claims track from another track.

Appealing against the judge's decision

You don't have an automatic right to appeal against a judge's decision and you have to ask the court where the hearing took place for permission to make an appeal.

You will only be allowed to make an appeal if:

  • the court thinks that you would have a real chance of success or where there is new evidence, or
  • you can prove that there was something wrong with the way the court process was handled.

You usually only have 21 days from the date of the judge's decision to make an appeal.

You'll have to pay a fee to make an appeal, but if you’re on a low income, you may get this reduced or you won’t have to pay at all.

It’s best to get advice from a solicitor if you want to make an appeal.

What happens if the trader doesn't pay?

If the trader doesn't pay you, you’ll have to go back to the court and ask the judge to make the trader pay. This is called enforcing the court order. You’ll have to pay another fee to do this, but if you’re on a low income, you may get this reduced or you won’t have to pay at all.

You may first want to ask the court for an order to obtain information. This is an order to bring the trader back to court so to examine their finances. This can help you decide whether it’s worth trying to get your money back and if so, what the best way would be.

These are the main ways the court can force the trader to pay you:

  • send bailiffs to seize goods from the trader that can be sold to pay you. This is called a warrant of control
  • order the trader to pay the money to the court and then pass it on to you
  • freeze the trader's bank or building society account and make an order for the bank or building society to pay you the money instead. This is called a third party debt order
  • put a charge on land or property the trader owns. When it is sold, any profit can be used to pay you. This is called a charging order. You may have to wait a long time before you get your money.

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