Small Claims In The UK

Posted on 3/31/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Late in 2013 the Patents County Court (PCC) that handles copyright claims in the UK was renamed the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) and a provision for submitting small claims was introduced. The small claims track is intended for claims with a value of up to £10,000 and where costs orders are tightly controlled.

According to Anne Mannion with the Swan Turton law firm in the UK, His Honour Judge Hacon, the judge assigned to the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court says the small claims track is currently being underused even though there are excellent deputy judges available to hear claims. 

Photographers have told Mannion that they find the court forms and procedures daunting. His Honour Judge Hacon says the court is currently revising the guide to the IPEC small claims track. It is hoped that the revisions will make the procedure more accessible to litigants in person and other court users.  

Reports of IPEC judgments can be found online at Bailii, however, the court doesn’t appear to be have published any judgments from the small claims track so far.

What’s Happening In The U.S.

The Copyright Office has been looking into the possibility of a Small Claims court since 2006, and on September 31, 2013, released a 201 page report of its findings during its two-year study on copyright small claims. The report documents the significant costs and other challenges in making a claim for an infringement.

In the U.S., copyright infringement cases must be heard in Federal Court. In the vast majority of photography cases the potential monetary damages are relatively small making it impossible, as a practical matter, to find an attorney who will take the case. A small claims track that would enable a photographer to make a claim without requiring the assistance of an attorney could be very beneficial.

Hopefully, the U.S. Congress will be able to learn something from the UK’s experience and move forward with legislation in the near future.

Copyright © 2014 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Jim Pickerell Posted Apr 1, 2014
    After Eugene Mopsik of ASMP called David Hoffman’s attention to this story Hoffman wrote:

    Thanks for this. I spoke to Anne Mannion in February about the underuse of the IPEC small claims track. As Jim writes, partly this is because it's hard work for a non-lawyer and there are a number of procedural hurdles to jump and bear traps to avoid. A clear step-by-step guide with examples and templates would make a big difference.

    There is another reason though which is more positive. The mere existence of the IPEC small claims track means that many infringers, when approached for a settlement, now pay up before any papers are filed. They are aware that they have no defense, that going to court will only increase their costs and that the IP owner now has a practical remedy which they are likely to use if required.

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