Private individual being sued in the Small Claims Court

Leo

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This is just bizarre. Someone in the Registrar’s office screwed up.
Why? The registrar isn't responsible for establishing the veracity of claims made in a submission. If the claimant says they purchased from a business, it's up to the respondent to counter that claim, and the judge to decide.
 

Salvadore

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Part of the Registrar’s function is to resolve matters informally before referring the dispute to court. In the course of this process, he/she could have asked for proof that the seller was acting in a private capacity.

This proof will presumably be provided at the court hearing. It would have been less stressful on the defendant, and cheaper for the state, if this was done at an earlier stage.
 

Leo

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Part of the Registrar’s function is to resolve matters informally before referring the dispute to court. In the course of this process, he/she could have asked for proof that the seller was acting in a private capacity.
Did you miss the piece where the Registrar asked the respondent to offer a settlement? That is the negotiation phase.
 

Salvadore

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If that’s the extent of the process, then it’s seriously flawed. It’s bizarre (and a waste of court resources) that any private citizen can find themselves in court without having at least an opportunity to present their side of a story and have it considered by a prosecutor.
 

Leo

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If that’s the extent of the process, then it’s seriously flawed. It’s bizarre (and a waste of court resources) that any private citizen can find themselves in court without having at least an opportunity to present their side of a story and have it considered by a prosecutor.
It's negotiation, all they can do is start by asking one party to move from their position.

Any private citizen can find themselves in court, if they are very clearly innocent, that will in most cases be quickly determined by the judge. What you are proposing takes that role away from the judiciary which would be a very dangerous road to go down.
 

Páid

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Any private citizen can find themselves in court, if they are very clearly innocent, that will in most cases be quickly determined by the judge. What you are proposing takes that role away from the judiciary which would be a very dangerous road to go down.
The small claims court only deals with specific cases, like the district, circuit or high court do. Can the registrar not decide that the case is outside the jurisdiction of the court? For example, if the amount claimed is more than €2,000 or if the defendant is a private individual?
 

Páid

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I attended the disctrict court as an observer once. A claimant pursued a case about a faulty BMW for an amount that was clearly outside of the district courts jurisdiction. The plaintiffs barrister realised the mistake and was very apologetic. There were witnesses and barristers for both sides already there. The judge who was clearly very angry dismissed the case but awarded costs against the plaintiff and told them to go to the circuit court.
 

Leo

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The small claims court only deals with specific cases, like the district, circuit or high court do. Can the registrar not decide that the case is outside the jurisdiction of the court? For example, if the amount claimed is more than €2,000 or if the defendant is a private individual?
The registrar will base jurisdiction on the information supplied by the claimant. To get this far, it's likely the claimant is stating the respondent is operating as a business, the Registrar can't make a judgement on that.
 

Leo

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I attended the disctrict court as an observer once. A claimant pursued a case about a faulty BMW for an amount that was clearly outside of the district courts jurisdiction. The plaintiffs barrister realised the mistake and was very apologetic. There were witnesses and barristers for both sides already there. The judge who was clearly very angry dismissed the case but awarded costs against the plaintiff and told them to go to the circuit court.
I'd be disappointed in my solicitor that they let it get to that stage if I were the plaintiff there!

We're all guessing based on the information at hand, but it may well be a similar situation to what's going on here, just the claimant here has no legal representation advising them of the merits of their case and nothing only €25 to lose by pursuing it.
 

Salvadore

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It's negotiation, all they can do is start by asking one party to move from their position.

Any private citizen can find themselves in court, if they are very clearly innocent, that will in most cases be quickly determined by the judge. What you are proposing takes that role away from the judiciary which would be a very dangerous road to go down.
What I’m suggesting is a role similar to that of the DPP where the strength of evidence and likelihood of successful conviction are weighed up before deciding to pursue further - notwithstanding the views of Gardai and other parties who may hold opposing views.

While private citizens can indeed find themselves in court, it should be on the basis of reasonable evidence rather than the bloody mindedness of a disaffected car buyer.
 

delgirl

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Have you spoken with the Clerk in the Small Claims Office?

Has the Registrar contacted you about the case? They are supposed to try to come to a resolution before it comes to court.
She has tried numerous times to contact the Registrar and only has 1 week left to respond. He answered her call today, they're incredibly busy and he apologised.

She explained that she is highly disressed by this claim and has offered to forward:-

- confimation from the CRO that there is not and never has been a business name or Company registered in her name;
- a letter from her employer confirming that she is a full time, PAYE employee who works shift and night duty;
- copies of her payslips confirming that she works a minimum 40 hours per week plus occasional overtime etc.
- copies of her personal bank statements showing salary as only form of income and regular outgoings.

The Registrar has agreed to review the documentation and will revert with his decision as to whether the proof is sufficient. Fingers crossed.
 
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Leo

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What I’m suggesting is a role similar to that of the DPP where the strength of evidence and likelihood of successful conviction are weighed up before deciding to pursue further - notwithstanding the views of Gardai and other parties who may hold opposing views.
The criminal and civil worlds are quite different in determining what gets to court. In the civil world everyone is entitled to have their day in court, regardless of others' perceptions of the merits of their case. The criminal world has a much higher bar, hence the DPP role in deciding what's worth pursuing.

Adding such a review process to the Small Claims procedures would defeat the goals of simplicity and low cost.
 

Gordon Gekko

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She has tried numerous times to contact the Registrar and only has 1 week left to respond. He answered her call today, they're incredibly busy and he apologised.

She explained that she is highly disressed by this claim and has offered to forward:-

- confimation from the CRO that there is not and never has been a business name or Company registered in her name;
- a letter from her employer confirming that she is a full time, PAYE employee who works shift and night duty;
- copies of her payslips confirming that she works a minimum 40 hours per week plus occasional overtime etc.
- copies of her personal bank statements showing salary as only form of income and regular outgoings.

The Registrar has agreed to review the documentation and will revert with his decision as to whether the proof is sufficient. Fingers crossed.
What about evidence that she’s owned the car for years and its insurance certs in her own name for the period?

None of the items above prove that she isn’t a car dealer in her spare time.
 

Salvadore

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The criminal and civil worlds are quite different in determining what gets to court. In the civil world everyone is entitled to have their day in court, regardless of others' perceptions of the merits of their case. The criminal world has a much higher bar, hence the DPP role in deciding what's worth pursuing.

Adding such a review process to the Small Claims procedures would defeat the goals of simplicity and low cost.
It certainly isn’t simple and low cost for the private citizen defendant in this instance.

The desirability of avoiding both the expense and formality of court proceedings is a feature of several dispute resolution bodies, including the WRC. This includes establishing the legitimate rights of both parties to proceed with the claim.

The SCC’s process begins with the assumption that the defendant is guilty as alleged and merely asks them to make an offer that might circumvent their need to present in court. It’s really not much of an attempt to resolve matters.
 
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Monbretia

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- confimation from the CRO that there is not and never has been a business name or Company registered in her name;
- a letter from her employer confirming that she is a full time, PAYE employee who works shift and night duty;
- copies of her payslips confirming that she works a minimum 40 hours per week plus occasional overtime etc.
- copies of her personal bank statements showing salary as only form of income and regular outgoings.
I would agree with Gordon, none of those mean anything, my mechanic has a pretty much full time job and runs his own garage on the side servicing and selling small number of cars.

I would at the least include as well the evidence of owning the car for however many years.
 

Seagull

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I attended the disctrict court as an observer once. A claimant pursued a case about a faulty BMW for an amount that was clearly outside of the district courts jurisdiction. The plaintiffs barrister realised the mistake and was very apologetic. There were witnesses and barristers for both sides already there. The judge who was clearly very angry dismissed the case but awarded costs against the plaintiff and told them to go to the circuit court.
I would hope the plaintiff's legal team picked up the bill for making a stupid error like that.
 

Leo

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It certainly isn’t simple and low cost for the private citizen defendant in this instance.
It couldn't be much more simple, they just have to state they are a private citizen, the burden of proof falls on the claimant.

The SCC’s process begins with the assumption that the defendant is guilty as alleged and merely asks them to make an offer that might circumvent their need to present in court. It’s really not much of an attempt to resolve matters.
Negotiation does not assign fault or guilt. One side makes an offer or other adjustment from their original position, that's how negotiation works.
 

Salvadore

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It couldn't be much more simple, they just have to state they are a private citizen, the burden of proof falls on the claimant
Nothing simple about the stress for a law abiding citizen of having to rock up in court to defend yourself against bogus claims.
 
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