Know Your Rights: Small Claims Procedure

Question

I am not happy with work that a builder did on my house and will have to pay for someone else to finish the job properly. What can I do to recoup the additional expense?

Answer (August 2017)

If your original builder is unwilling to compensate you, you may be able to pursue a claim against the builder through the Small Claims Procedure. The aim of this procedure is to provide an inexpensive, fast and easy way for consumers to resolve disputes without needing to employ a solicitor. The maximum amount you can claim is €2,000. The small claims service is provided through local District Court offices.

Anyone who has purchased goods or services for private use from someone selling them in the course of business may submit a claim using the Small Claims Procedure. You can make claims for faulty goods or bad workmanship, for minor damage to property, and for the non-return of rent deposits for certain kinds of rented properties, for example, a holiday home. Businesses involved in disputes with other businesses can also use the Small Claims Procedure.

To make a claim, you complete an application form which you can download from the Small Claims Procedure section of courts.ie or get from the Small Claims Registrar at the District Court office. Make sure you use the correct name and address of the person or company you want to make the claim against. The completed form and a fee of €25 should be lodged with the Small Claims Registrar. You can also apply online at the Courts Service Online website, csol.ie.

The Registrar sends a copy of your application to the person you are making the claim against. If the other party does not reply within 15 days of receiving your application, your claim will be automatically treated as undisputed and you can apply for a court order in your favour. If your claim is disputed, the Registrar will contact you and let you have a copy of the reasons why the other party is disputing your claim. The Registrar will try to negotiate a settlement to the dispute. If no settlement can be reached, the matter is then set for a court hearing in the District Court.