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If the party who received the claim does not respond

England and Wales

It is relatively easy to obtain judgment in your favour (known as a 'judgment by default'). You must then take enforcement action to recover the debt.


You will need to obtain a judgement in your favour; this is done by filing an Application for a Decision Form 7A with the court.

If the party responds by admitting that money is owed

They can respond and offer to pay the money owed in instalments (eg by using a Letter proposing payments in instalments) or in one lump sum at a date in the future, or they can fail to make any proposal for payment. 

As you are owed the debt, you can decide what to do. You can accept the proposal for payment (consider using a Letter accepting payments in instalments) or refuse the proposal and ask the court to decide.

If there is no proposal for payment, ask the court for an order for payment.

If the party who received the claim disputes it

England and Wales

In disputing the claim, the party must provide a defence. The court uses an allocation questionnaire to decide which track to allocate the case to and then provides directions.  These tell the parties what they need to do and by when and can include a trial date or preliminary hearing date (if there are things to be dealt with before trial).

A request can be made by letter to change a hearing date.

It is important to follow directions exactly as, otherwise, a penalty can be imposed, or the case can be postponed.

Directions can also require the parties to disclose documents relevant to their case. This is done by serving a list of documents on the other. The list must include documents you are relying on and documents that do not help your case. Each party is entitled to inspect any document on the list.

If the case is settled before trial, confirm this in writing and send a copy to the court.

When the trial has taken place, a court order is sent to the parties. Reasons for the decision are not normally given.

If the parties agree, a case can be dealt with by the court based on the papers before them without the need for a hearing.


Where the person you are bringing a claim against disputes the claim, they fill in Form 4A and sent a copy to both you (the claimant) and the court. It is then up to the sheriff to decide how to proceed.

The sheriff has a number of options to choose from:

  • refer the parties for alternative dispute resolution
  • arrange a case management discussion
  • arrange a hearing
  • consider making a claim without a hearing
  • dismiss the claim or reach a decision because the claim is unlikely to succeed

You will be informed of the sheriff’s decision. If you need to attend court, you will be informed of the date and time and the reason for the hearing/discussion.

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