John Pugh's Chambers

33 Cheadle Avenue
Liverpool
L13 3AE

Specialist in consumer credit litigation

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John Pugh LLB (Hons)
Barrister

Eileen Ashton JP LLB (Hons)
Practice Manager.

Suzanne Thomas
Administrator




Consumer credit small claims. Fixed fees for defended debt claims for under 10,000.

Work Item Fee Importance
Advice 150 core
Protocol Reply 60 option
Defence 150 core
Directions Questionnaire 60 option
Witness Statement and Documents 150 option
Written Submission for trial - or 360 core/option
Brief to conduct your trial 1000 plus travel costs option
Draft consent order 120 option


My travel expenses for any given court can be viewed here


How to instruct me on fixed fee work:


Please email:
suzanne@johnpughschambers.co.uk
and:

a. Put the case name in the subject line

b. State your name, address and phone number

c. Request which item(s) from my fixed fee list you require

Suzanne or I will email you a questionnaire, client care letter and pro-forma fee note;

Pay the fee, complete the questionnaire and supply the requested documents (email or post oif too bulky).

I will respond by email attaching what you have requested and a receipted fee note.

For any subsequent instructions simply email requesting what you want from the menu above. Suzanne will respond with an order acknowledgement and proforma fee note and your work will follow.

If you are intending to brief me for a small claims trial please check my diary with Suzanne on 0151 236 5415.


The following are examples of situations which may occur in small claims which are not covered by the fixed fee table shown above:

Applications by the creditor for summary judgment

Sometimes creditors apply for summary judgment even in small claims cases.  The way to deal with such an application is as follows:

(1) Complete my consumer credit small claims questionnaire (unless you have already done so) and in a separate sheet identify each paragraph in the creditor's supporting application you disagree with and why you disagree.

(2) Instruct me to draft a witness statement in opposition.

(3) For the hearing either instruct me to prepare a written submission for you to place before the judge (if you wish to attend in person) or brief me to attend for you. If you brief me I will prepare a skeleton argument in opposition to the application, attend on the day and argue your case.

(4) If you are successful in opposing a summary judgment aplication you can request costs, even if it is a small claim. It is in the court's discretion.

(5) If you wish to instruct me on such an application please email (suzanne@johnpughschambers.co.uk)or telephone Suzanne on 0151 236 5415 to discuss availability and fees.

(6) As a rough guide the fee for your witness statement would be 120, for a written submission to aid you in self-representation, 300, or to brief me to repreresent you at court 750 plus travel expenses.  

Applications to set aside a default judgment entered by the creditor

If your creditor obtains a judgment against you because you did not file the acknowledgenment of service in time or file your defence in time you may have to apply to set aside judgment.

The way to deal with such an application is as follows:

(1) Unless you have already done so, complete my consumer credit small claims questionnaire, send me a copy of the judgment and inform me when you filed acknowledgement of service and when you filed your defence and attach the proof you did so.  If you did not file either of these documents in time or at all tell me why you failed to do so.

(2) Applying to set aside a judgment involves making an application to the court.  The court will charge you 255 for this. You will need to instruct me to advise you as to the merits of your application (i.e. whether your application is worth making) and to draft the application notice and the witness statement supporting it from the information and documents you supply me with.

(3) For the hearing of your application either instruct me to prepare a written submission for you to place before the judge if you wish to attend in person, or, brief me to attend for you in which case I will prepare a skeleton argument in opposition to the application and attend on the day.

(4) If you are successful in having the judgment set aside, and the judgment should not have been entered in the frist place, I can request that the creditor pays the costs you have incurred. Again, it is a decision in the discretion of the District Judge.  The judgment was entered through your default you may have to pay the other side's costs.

(5) CPR 13.3 (2) provides that in considering whether to set aside or vary a judgment  the matters to which the court must have regard include whether the person seeking to set aside the judgment made an application to do so promptly. So if you have to apply, do so as quickly as possible. Many applications which otherwise would succeed are defeated by delay in applying.

(6) If you wish to instruct me on such an application please email (suzanne@johnpughschambers.co.uk)or telephone Suzanne on 0151 236 5415 to discuss availability and fees.

(8) As a rough guide the fee for your application and witness statement would be 180, for a written submission to aid self representation, 300 or to brief me to represent you at court 750 plus expenses.

Responding to requests for further information by the creditor

There is rarely any need for a creditor to request further information from a debtor. But it sometimes happens. If so let me know.

If I have already advised you or drafted your defence I can often deal with such requests for under 100.

If your case is of higher value than a small claim (i.e over 10,000) the work is not covered by fixed fees please either email or telephone Suzanne to discuss your requirements and obtain a quotation.






Consumer credit small claims - fixed fees for defended debt claims under 10,000:

My fixed fee small claims service gives you an almost unfettered choice of options to help you deal with a creditor's claim under a regulated credit agreement on the small claims track (i.e for under 10,000).


If you use this fixed fee service you will instruct me to do two things, without which the rest of the service cannot be given. 

The service starts with advice. I need a good knowledge of your case from the outset. You will know from my advice before you spend any more money, whether it is worth it. And if it is you will be told why it is and what benefit you may get from defending it before you spend any more money. You will be given a suggested case strategy and advice on how good your negotiating position is.

If you are sued you will instruct me to draft your defence. When laymen draft defences I often spend more time trying to undo the damage caused by a defence drafted without understanding the issues involved than I do in promoting the case itself. If you don't plead your defence properly you can't rely on unpleaded allegations later. You also benefit from being seen by the creditor and the court to be defending the claim using counsel.

After advice and defence stage you can tailor your requirements, according to the value of your claim, your budget, your appetite for undertaking parts of the litigation yourself.

I have set out fixed fees in the table opposite and indicated which items of work represent the core service and which are options if the need arises or you want more help.

If your case settles the fees stop.

This is a PAYG service. If you want my service you know the fee and pay it to receive the service.

This way you will never owe me anything and have complete control of the expenditire.

If a fixed fee is not paid in time for me to do your work I will not be able to accept instructions to do it.

The core items are advice and defence. Afetr that, although I think you would be unwise not to have some form of help with the trial, the rest of the items on the list are optional. The choice is always yours.

Below, I have set out, for your consideration, some of the pros and cons of instructing me to do the work I offer at a fixed fee. 

Advice:

I will send you by email a 75 question questionnaire which can be completed by email. It ensures nothing is overlooked. My advice will be in attenuated form, i.e substance, not detailed arguments leading to the conclusions. It will tell you what your options are, how strong your case is on the basis of the documents and information supplied, and suggest a settlement strategy, for your consideration, to run in parallel with the case as it progresses. Always remember you have two aims namely (a) to win and be free of the debt and (b) to look as if you might win, get a good settlement you can manage and then be free of the debt. 

Protocol Response:

The new pre-action protocol for debt claims is not your friend. The Reply form is misleading in my opinion. It can lead you to making admissions you did not mean to make or would not make if properly advised.  I have set out in my self help tab what the traps are, sufficient for you to avoid them if you read carefully, and you are free to deal with the Protocol Reply form yourself with that guidance. However, if when you come to me, you have just received a Letter of Claim (LOC) under the Pre Action Protocol for Debt Claims and have still not sent the Reply Form back I think it is worth asking me to deal with it as I can keep you safe and use it to your advantage even - but it is not risky enough for you for me to make it a core service. But if you do it yourself do be careful and read the guidance I have given you on the Self Help tab carefully before doing so.

Defence:

It is essential I draft your defence. If not me, then instruct another barrister to do it. Don't do it yourself unless it is absolutely necessary. If you spend money on nothing else in your case get your defence properly drafted from the outset by someone who knows consumer credit law and is experienced in pleading statements of case.

Directions Questionnaire:

The court sends you the allocation questionnaire.  It will either be for a small claims case or for a fast tracl/multi track case. In 95% of cases you will complete the small claims questionnaire with no problem whatsoever. There is guidance as to completion of this document on the self help tab in this site. It is very simple and you don't need me except in one circumstance. 

Only if the claim is above 10,000 and you have received a fast track/multtrack DQ, and you want to keep it on the small claims track, is it worth coming to me to complete it. 

There is a discretion in the court to allocate above 10,000 claims to the smallclaims track. Often creditors are happy with this as well.

The Judge will not allocate your case to a track until after he has read each side's directions questionnaire.  So if you gte a small claims allocation questionnaire complet it yourself but if you are sent a fsat track/multi track allocation questionnaire come to me to have it completed for you. 

Witness Statement and Documents:

This is not core. It may help your case if I do draft it from your responses to the questionnaire but it is not an item of crucial importance such as the preliminary advice or the defence.     

Written submission for trial:

If you intend to represent yourself or deal with the case in writing having your case set out clearly with sources and grounds for your all your points identified will help.

If You brief me I will draft a skeleton argument and bring a bundle of authorities I will rely on.  If I am not going to be there, then this written submission is similar to my skeleton argument but it is adjusted to suit the circumstances. E.G. I know where the relevant statute law and guidance is in the Civil Court Practice (The White Book) that all judges have in front of them at court and so I refer to that for authority. If I rely on e.g a regulation not in the White Book I will cite it in full in the submission.

You can use this submission in three distinct ways namely:

(a) As a presentation of your case to the Judge at a small claims trial at which you attend and agree to be questioned.

(b) As a statement under CPR 27.9 if you elect not to attend trial yourself. This is an option if the creditor's case is flawed owing to lack of information or documents. Thye often plug the gaps in their evdience with admissions form you in xross examination. In some cases you actually benefit from not being there to be questioned. If you ask me to do a written submission for trial I will tell you which of these two options I think is best for your case.

(c)  Sometimes you may wish to brief me but I cannot attend owing to other professional commitments. If you wish to choose an alternative advocate to represent you this written submission can help them, especially if they are not a consumer credit expert.

Brief to conduct your trial:

If I can accept your brief I will prepare your case from your case papers which must include all statements of case, witness statements and documents attached to them and court orders. I will prepare a skeleton argument and deliver it to court myself and serve your opponents with it if I can locate them.  I will prepare a bundle of the statutory, regulatory or common law case authorities on which I will be relying and take copies to court for the trial judge and my opponent.  I will be at court at least half an hour before the case is listed so we can have a conversation about the case (conference). 

My published fees are inclusive of VAT but exclusive of travel expenses which vary according to the venue of your trial. I have published a list of travel expenses for each court. I will not arrive at court exhausted after a long journey. So for  cases over 100 miles away from my Liverpool chambers, I stay overnight locally to ensure I am not late and am in good shape to argue your case. 

Draft consent order:

Many consumer credit claims settle. It is not well understood that once a case has started, there are two settlements to be made:

(a) The issue between the parties must be settled, but also, it is often forgotten that

(b) the litigation must to be brought to a satisfactory conclusion and the court must approve the second part.

Amidst, sighs of relief, relaxation and the contemplation of a stiff brandy to celebrate the end of the whole sorry business the precise terms of settlement can easily be overlooked or rushed, especially when instalment payments are involved.

If you tell me what you undertand what the proposed  agreement represents, and let me see any proposed order I will ensure the order is both what you understand it to be and has no traps or penalties in it you have not understood. Obviously any compromise agreement will be capable of being enforced but you need to take care to see it is not enforced unfairly.   


Tel: 0151 236 5415         Email: Info@johnpughschambers.co.uk        DX 14182 Liverpool