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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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I was taken to small claims court and before a date was set

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I was taken to small claims court and before a date was set I informed the court that I would be out of the country for 2 months. When I returned I found out that the hearing had taken place without me and that I had lost because I failed to turn up. The court had apparently telephoned me twice but I had not answered. I have found out today that the court has placed money in my bank account on hold.
I have again telephoned and a lady checked the files and said that, yes all my emails letters and telephone calls that I had made informing me that I would not be in the country were on file but the judge had decided to proceed anyway. To this day I have never received any document informing me of a trial date and when I telephoned in December 2014 to say I would be away, the lady then said that there was no trial date set, as no money had been paid by the other party.
Is this possible? Surely I have a right to be able to defend myself without being excluded on the whim of a judge.
Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.
When were you aware of Judgment please?
How did you tell the Court for the dates to avoid, was it on the Directions Questionnaire?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Alex thank you for your help.

I was aware of the two judgements when I returned on the 22nd of March.

I emailed, phoned and wrote with a recorded delivery letter dated the 10th December 2014

I was never given a Directions Questionare.

I was advised that it was on my file I would be away.

This was confirmed today by Jenny Sutton at the Brighton court. She said the judge chose to ignore the fact I was away.

Did you file a notice to the Court to say you were away? If you knew on 22nd march there was Judgment why have you waited until now before doing anything?
Were you given an allocation questionnaire when you filed a defence?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have written to the court and asked for another hearing. They replied only a days ago and said I need to pay another £155 to re-open the case. Why is the judge allowed to hear the case knowing I was away? And advise me by telephone calls when the hearing is being held.

When you filed a defence you would have had either an allocation questionnaire or directions questionnaire.
Did you put your holiday dates here?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No I was asked to file a defense and send my argument to the court and the plaintiffs.

I was never advised I needed to file either questionnaire.

I was told that advising the court of my dates away would be on file.

So when you filed your defence, what did you get from the Court.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Oh a letter requesting arbitration.

After phoning the lady she advised me that the plaintiffs had not yet responded to my defense or her letter. Nothing else I received until I returned home to two judgements.

So how did you know about the trial date?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I don't understand your question. In September we went to small claims court and the judge said the case must go to trial and I was to set out my defense sending it to the palintiffs and to the court.

There was no trail date set.

Before all that.
The claim was issued, you filed a defence, is that right?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Then you would have had allocation documents or was there an allocation hearing?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

We had gone to court and there the judge said I had to send my defense to everyone. No date for a hearing was set to be determined at a later date. The plaintiff still had to file some other paper work too.

But it must have been allocated to the small claims?
Did you file a notice at Court saying you could not attend?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have taken out all my notes.

I received a letter the trail to take place on the the 3rd February 2015 dated the 5th December 2014

I emailed the cour 10th December 2014 to say I was away on this date.

I spoke to a court personnel Mrs Hannah Stankierwiez who confirmed it was in my file and documented.

I sent a recorded delivery letter to insure and back up confirmation - they knew I was away.

I spoke to Mrs Jenny Sutton today who said it was in my file but the judge chose to ignore this and proceed with the hearing anyway.

Did you ever make a formal application to adjourn?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No I did not and was not advised I needed to do this. How sad I was not told to make a formal adjournment. I have been mislead and told it was fine. Being on my record was enough.

Well The Judge was aware but went ahead anyway. But why have you waited a month before doing anything?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have not waited a month I have been trying to get the reason from the courts as to why the hearing was done in my absense.

I have just received their last letter explaining the situation. And I telephoned to day as stated.

I have already been asked these questions.

All I wanted to know was - can the judge decided to proceed with a hearing even if he is aware I was away.

This is striping me of my basic human right to defend myself.

1) Yes the Judge can
You had 2 choices:
1) To make a formal application to adjourn
2) Give notice that you were not going to attend (which the Court was aware) and the Judge decided to proceed anyway.
If you wanted to adjourn the hearing to attend you should have made an application. Court staff are not legally qualified, so they can not give you legal advice.
In any event under the Court rules, CPR 27.9 then you have 7 days to apply to set aside the Order if you did not attend.
If you did not then sadly you can try and do it now by formal application using form N244 but its possible a Judge will decide you are out of time.
I am sorry if this is not necessarily the answer you want and certainly not the one I want to give you, but I have a duty to be honest.
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Ash and other Law Specialists are ready to help you

I am just following up on this. Is there anything else I can help with? If so, please let me know.