National franchise QualitySolicitors has announced a link-up with a mediation specialist to offer a fixed-fee service for small claims.
The network says it has found ‘unmet need’ among consumers and small businesses dealing with claims under £10,000 on their own.
QS will offer a 30 or 45-minute consultation, costing £49 or £99, to decide what the dispute entails and what a fair outcome will be. The service will include help with writing a complaint letter.
Where mediation is in clients’ best interests, QS will refer them to Leicester-based Small Claims Mediation UK for a fixed-fee service.
For disputes up to £5,000, two hours is deemed as sufficient to resolve the matter and clients will pay £119. For claims up to £10,000, a three-hour service will cost £319.
John Baden-Daintree (pictured), head of legal services at QualitySolicitors, said: ‘The small claims court process might well be intended for people to navigate themselves, but many still find it confusing, stressful, upsetting and slow. Most could do with some help.
‘Yet most law firms do not offer a cost-effective service to help with small claim disputes, in fact most don’t get involved with small claims at all.
‘We think this is shortsighted, not only because it may mean consumers and businesses give up and don’t recover what is rightfully theirs, but it also means the law firm loses a client.’
Last week justice minister Simon Hughes advocated the use of mediation, with clients having ‘nothing to lose and everything to gain’.
Small Claims Mediation, led by former civil servant and member of the Civil Mediation Council Jo Holland, is a panel of mediators spread across the country.