Sorry, there is no such app (yet) but we can’t be far off since Money Claims Online does very much the same job. It may sound like a dodgy ambulance-chasing outfit but it is a legitimate service provided by HM Court Service.
Visit the site, fill in a few boxes, give a credit card number and the Northampton County Court will issue a claim form under CPR Part 7 on your behalf.
I see this service being used more and more by litigants in person, who seem to think this is a quick and easy way to recover money (and preferable to adjudication). It is certainly an easy way to make an impact on a late payer, but it may not be as easy as it seems.
Is this a good thing?
It does make the court system more accessible when the filing of court documents happens online. People who do not want to, or cannot afford to, incur legal fees have an easy way to obtain the help of the courts in making claims for payment. There can be no argument that a claim form issued by the court does make a bit more of an impression on recalcitrant payers than yet another demand letter.
Like everything online, there is a simple online guide and you can even see a video of what a court hearing looks like. There are FAQs and you can email or call a helpline with any queries. Claims are limited to less than £100,000, where the only remedy claimed is payment (see Practice Direction 7E).
Do the users understand how the system works?
Making a claim is easy. Anything you put in the box will pop up as “Particulars of Claim”. I have seen some poorly presented claims with no explanation of why the money is due, what is the contract and without even using the correct party names. Unless served separately, the particulars of claim are limited to 1080 characters (just under 8 tweets, I am told, or a third of this blog).
From what I have seen, some claimants think that this a better option to either negotiating a settlement or adjudication. It certainly is easy enough to issue the claim and it may well result in payment, but if there is a genuine dispute, the claim will be managed like any other claim, with a CMC being fixed, disclosure, witness statements and a trial date somewhere down the line.
The litigant in person will then realise that more forms need to be filed and that they need to deal with allocation questionnaires and the full formal court process. For people who are used to the quick adjudication timetable, the court process will be disappointing. Indeed, this may result in a bit of a discussion and a deal being done, so perhaps its not a bad thing. Some will say it makes sense to encourage settlement by not making claims too easy to run.
Are we going to get an app?
I do not know and it may be a step too far for the court system (especially without parental controls in place). The current system is however easy enough: go on, have a look at www.moneyclaim.co.uk.