Step 5: Issuing Proceedings

Primary Content Source: Ursula Mian


General information applicable to most Court proceedings

If it is not possible to settle a dispute amicably via mediation, then it may be that your only option is to initiate Court Proceedings. If so, it is often tricky as a Litigant in Person (“LiP”) to know where to begin or how to do this. diyLAW aims to alleviate these difficulties.

We cover here some basic information which is generic to most claims.


Are you in time to bring a claim?

The guidance for this is set out in the Limitation Act 1980 but the important information is set out in the table on the next page.

If the timeframes set out have expired, no further action can be taken. The claim will be considered as time-barred. It is important therefore to work out the time limitation of your claim. If it seems likely the matter cannot be dealt with by way of ADR ensure Court proceedings are initiated in good time before the limitation time expires.

Time in which a
claim can be brought
Contract (not personal injury) 6 years From the date the
cause of action occurred
Limitation Act 1980
Section 5
Tort (not personal injury or latent damage) 6 years From the date the
damage is suffered
Limitation Act 1980
Section 2
Latent damage 6 years or From the date the
damage began
Limitation Act 1980
Section 14(A)
3 years From the date of
knowledge (or ought to have knowledge) of the damage if this period
expires after the 6 years set out above.

Note: There is a
long-stop period of 15 years from the date of the defendants act to
avoid indefinite risk of action
Limitation Act 1980
Section 14(A)

Limitation Act 1980
Section 14(B)

If you are in time, be sure to look at our “How to Fill in a Particulars of Claim Form”.

Which Court should you use?

Small Claims Court

Where the claim has a value of £5,000 or less.

County Court

Where the claim has a value of £100,000 or less and for personal injury claims, the value is £50,000 or less. In addition, where the issues in dispute are not complex and it is not a matter of public interest.

High Court

Where the claim has a value exceeding £100,000 and for personal injury claims exceeding £50,000 or where the claim is for lesser amounts but where the issues are complex or the outcome is a matter of public interest. The High Court has three divisions as follows:

Queens Bench

Deals with defamation, breach of contract, negligence, personal injury, land possession claims, non-payment of debts. The Queen’s Bench Division also includes the Commercial Court, the Technology and Construction Court, the Admiralty Court and the Commercial Court.


Deals with equity, trusts, commercial fraud, tax, intellectual property, land, business disputes, contentious probate, regulatory work, bankruptcy, professional negligence. The Chancery Division also includes the Companies, Court, the Bankruptcy Court and Patent Courts.

Family Division N/A

  • Tips for the drafting of documents (Please note that specialist courts may have their own specific allocation rules or thresholds).

  •  It is very important to produce clear and concise documents within the Court proceedings to assist the Judge and the smooth running of proceedings.

Do Don't
✔ Set out the Court, case number, names of parties, title of your document at the start X Omit postcode
✔ Include the full address (with postcode) where each party resides or carries on business as required X Jumble together dates, key events etc.
✔ Allow yourself time to detail all relevant information X Be emotive
✔ Place the information in chronological order X Guess, speculate or include 'hearsay' - stick to the facts
✔ Use headings X Set the information out in one long unbroken block of text
✔ Ensure all information is factual X Forget to attach supporting documents
✔ Make reference to supporting evidence X Forget to make reference to the supporting documents
✔ Attach and label supporting evidence X Forget the statement of truth
✔ Clearly state the remedy you require
✔ Include a statement of truth, your full name, signature and date at the end of the document


Tips About Evidence

It is extremely important to ensure each claim is supported by all relevant and necessary documentation. Essentially anything can form evidence so long as it has been witnessed or documented in some way. The evidence should: 

  • Prove/be relevant to particular facts or issues disputed

  • Be collated in chronological order

  • Be paginated/labelled for ease of reference

  • Be collated as soon as the decision to initiate Court proceedings has been made

  • Requests for copy documents from banks, authorities, etc should be made as early as possible


Examples of evidence are (not an exhaustive list):

  • Business accounts
  • Call logs
  • Contract documents
  • Diary entries
  • Emails
  • Expert reports
  • Financial statements
  • GP reports
  • Invoices
  • Letters
  • Photographs
  • Receipts
  • Signed agreements
  • Witness statements

Proceedings are transparent and therefore supporting evidence upon which a claimant / defendant wishes to rely must be disclosed early on or as requested at specified times throughout the proceedings.

Any evidence which is not openly disclosed usually cannot be relied upon.

If evidence is produced for the first time at trial it is likely the Judge will either:

  • not allow the information to be used; or

  • if the documents are considered as crucial evidence, it is likely the trial will be re-scheduled.

This will be to allow the other party(ies) to the proceedings time to respond to the late evidence. Such action, however, will probably lead to a ‘Wasted Costs Order’ being made against you to pay the other party(ies) costs of the wasted trial day.

Be warned! Disclose all evidence early.


Serving documents on the other side

If the other side has instructed a solicitor to act on their behalf and the solicitor is authorised to accept service of documents then the Claim Form/other documents should be sent to the solicitor. Where there is no solicitor authorised to accept service of a Claim Form / other documents then the following applies:

Person to be served with Claim Form/documents Where?
Individual Usual or last known home address
Individual being sued in the name of a business or of a partnership As above or the principal or last known address of the business / partnership
Limited Liability Partnership ("LLP") Principal office of the LLP, or any place of business of the LLP within Jurisdiction which is connected with the claim
Corporation incorporated in England and Wales (not a company) Principal office of the corporation; or any place within Jurisdiction where the Corporation carries on its activities which has a connection with the claim
Company registered in England and Wales Principal office of the company; or any place of business of the company within Jurisdiction which is connected with the claim
Any other company or corporation Any place within Jurisdiction where the activities / business of the company / corporation are carried out


Service of documents in practice

Of course, you cannot know precisely when the Claim forms / documents are actually served. Accordingly the Civil Procedure Rules provide for when service of a Claim Form / other documents are deemed to have occurred. Claim forms are deemed as served on the second working day after any method of service has taken place.

Please note the following:

  • ‘Working day’ is any day except:– Saturday, Sunday, a Bank Holiday, Good Friday, Christmas Day.

  • Electronic method of service – If serving the documents to a solicitor representing the other party it is important to obtain confirmation from the solicitor that they are authorised and do accept electronic service of documents. Otherwise electronic service may not be valid.

Deemed Service for Non-Claim forms
Personal Service Personally served before 4.30pm on a working day then it is deemed as served on that same day. Otherwise, documents are deemed as served on the next working day after personal service occurred
First class post Documents deemed as served on the second working day after being posted
Courier / other service providing delivery on the next working day Documents deemed as served on the second working day after being provided to the courier / other service providing delivery
Delivery of documents to / leaving documents at a permitted address If the documents are delivered to / left at a permitted address before 4.30pm on a working day they are deemed as served on that same day. Otherwise deemed service will be on the next working day
Fax If the fax transmission completes before 4.30pm on a working day, service is on that same day. Otherwise service is deemed on the next working day after the fax transmission
Other electronic method By email or other electronic transmission before 4.30pm on a working day deemed service is the same day; otherwise deemed service is the next working day after it was electronically transmitted
diyLAW - Help for Litigants in Person: Issuing Proceedings