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Written Answers - Court Procedures

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 765 No. 3

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 366.  Deputy Jerry Buttimer Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter  if he will consider amending the regulations governing the small claims procedure in order that businesses can use it to recover small debts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23661/12]

 385.  Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams  asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter  if he will outline the process followed when an individual brings a claim to the small claims court; whether the registrar of the small claims court is allowed to make an arbitrary judgement without allowing the claimant a hearing. [24138/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 366 and 385 together.

The small claims procedure of the District Court is an alternative method of dealing with a civil proceeding in respect of a small claim. The majority of claims are dealt with by administrative staff in the local District Court offices. Typical claims are:

a claim in respect of goods or services purchased from somebody selling them in the course of a business,

minor damage to property (excluding personal injuries), and

the non-return of a rent deposit for certain types of dwellings.

The procedure does not cover claims in respect of debts, personal injuries or breaches of leases or higher purchase agreements. Generally such cases may be more effectively and speedily dealt with by way of civil bill.

From its inception the procedure was designed to handle consumer claims cheaply without involving a solicitor. The District Court Clerk, in his/her capacity as the Small Claims Registrar, processes the claims. Where possible, the registrar will negotiate a settlement without the need for a court hearing. Approximately half of processed claims are settled in this way. If the matter cannot be settled the registrar will bring the claim before the District Court. The Deputy will be pleased to learn that the procedure was expanded from January 2010 to allow for business to business claims of the same nature. The procedure is kept under review by my Department.


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