Ceisteanna—Questions. Written Answers. - Small Claims Courts.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

134 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice if she will make a statement on the current position relating to the performance of small claims courts. [3215/94]

The Small Claims Procedure was introduced in four District Court venues on a pilot basis in December, 1991. The procedure is designed to handle consumer claims speedily, cheaply, and informally without involving a solicitor. To be eligible to use the procedure, the "consumer" must have bought the goods or the service for private use and from a person selling them in the course of a business. Initially the procedure covered claims for up to £500 for bad workmanship and faulty goods as far as most everyday transactions for goods and services are concerned but not for debts or personal injury. A fee of £5 is charged for making a claim.

Following the successful operation of the pilot scheme over a period of two years I extended it to all District Court venues in December, 1993. In addition, I extended the scope of the procedure to include the non-return of rent deposits and minor damage to privatelyowned property.
In terms of use in the six month period from 8 December 1993 to 7 June, 1994, 1,154 applications were received, of which 552 were settled by the Registrar.
The operation of the procedure is being reviewed on a six monthly basis and if considered necessary I will further extend or modify its scope. I have already given a commitment to increase the monetary limit on claims under the procedure from £500 to £1,000 by annual instalments of £100 commencing in 1995.