Taking my baby with me to small claims court

(27 Posts)
FasterThanASnakeAndAMongoose Sun 15-May-16 22:38:23

Having a bit of a panic. I posted a while ago about an ongoing dispute we're having with a builder. Basically he's invoiced us for a shedload of expensive extras that we never agreed to, long after the work was complete and final invoice paid.

Anyway, 5 weeks since we emailed him he's just tonight emailed back to say he doesn't accept our offer. We're not prepared to pay what he's asking so I think he's probably going to take us to small claims court now.

I'm worried. I have no experience of court, but sure we can represent ourselves well. My concern is though that I'm breastfeeding my 3 month old. A colleague told me a while ago that you can't take children with you to court. Is she right? Even if I'm breastfeeding?

Fair enough to not taking my toddler, although she might lighten the mood.

Sorry for the rambling post. Feeling rather stressed.

FasterThanASnakeAndAMongoose Sun 15-May-16 22:38:54

Here is a link to my previous thread: www.mumsnet.com/Talk/am_i_being_unreasonable/2625362-Builder-sending-new-invoice-months-after-balance-paid-update

Wolfiefan Sun 15-May-16 22:40:12

Surely that won't come straight to court can you get someone to sit outside court and feed a bottle of expressed breastmilk?
How stressful though.

Ponderinglife Sun 15-May-16 22:41:49

As far as I know, children under 14 are not allowed in court.

Could you take a friend to watch baby in waiting room while you are actually in the court?

ReallyTired Sun 15-May-16 22:46:30

Depending on the amount owed I thought the many small claims are done by post rather than you having your day in court. You builder will explain why he thinks you owe him x and you have write a defence why you think the claim is not valid.

Ilovewillow Sun 15-May-16 22:46:45

I worked for the Lord Chancellors Dept. Many yrs ago and we wouldn't have allowed a baby in court! However I wouldn't worry about it just yet if the claim hasn't even been made yet there are several steps to go through before it gets to court if indeed it does at all!

MumOnTheRunCatchingUp Sun 15-May-16 22:48:34

You don't get special treatment due to just breastfeeding!!

FasterThanASnakeAndAMongoose Sun 15-May-16 22:49:23

I suppose I could ask someone to be with him outside, but I'd be on edge that I'd need to go and see to him at any moment. Nervous enough at the thought of court sad

He'll only take a bottle if I feed it to him - there goes my master plan of training him to take a bottle so I can have a night off at some point!

I don't know when it would be or how long it would take. I can't see us reaching an agreement with the builder though. He's now hassling us to pay quickly as it's dragging on. He is the one who has just taken 5 weeks to reply to an email hmm

Snuggling ds now and feeling really sad that I might have to be away from him to deal with this twat of a builder. Being hormonal and sleep deprived doesn't help!

FasterThanASnakeAndAMongoose Sun 15-May-16 22:52:22

I'm not asking for special treatment Mumontherun - hmmbut ds is fed on demand and cannot feed if he is away from me. I feed him about 15 times per 24 hours at the moment. If he would take a bottle then obviously that would be fine, but he won't.

FasterThanASnakeAndAMongoose Sun 15-May-16 22:53:33

I had no idea it could be done by post - thank you Really that's reassuring!

stiffstink Sun 15-May-16 22:53:56

If he issues proceedings it will be ages until you are actually required to attend court. Some courts have waiting rooms with toys in, although I have never seen children actually in a courtroom (which doesn't mean it hasn't happened).

VimFuego101 Sun 15-May-16 22:58:36

If he takes that long to reply to an email your baby will probably be eating solids and feeding much less frequently before it gets to court. I really wouldn't panic about it.

FasterThanASnakeAndAMongoose Sun 15-May-16 22:59:36

Hopefully if it comes to it it'll be a long way off. He's the worst faffer I've ever met. Argh though.

justkeeponsmiling Sun 15-May-16 23:03:09

I had to testify in court when my DD was tiny - I was called by the defence as a witness, it was about a car accident I was involved in (I had to do an emergency stop and the guy crashing into me claimed later that he hadn't but that the guy behind him had shoved him into my car) I had no idea I couldn't bring babies into court at the time - in hindsight I was veey naive! The judge was lovely and he asked ionef anyone of the people present would look after her for a few minutes outside and promised to make my statement as quick as possible). The dad of the defendant ended up pushin her around in her pram outside the courtoomfor a few minutes while I gave evidence!
What I am trying to say is: everyone is human. I am sure if you turn up with a baby they will do their best to help you out.
Good luck!

kirinm Sun 15-May-16 23:09:09

It will likely take the best part of 6 months to get to a hearing if it gets that far.

I didn't know small claims can be dealt with by post?! I'm a solicitor - although don't deal with small claims - but it's news to me.

FasterThanASnakeAndAMongoose Sun 15-May-16 23:11:09

Thank you just! That must have been very stressful for you. Fingers crossed it'll be possible to do it by post. Although knowing the builder, ds will probably be at school by the time he gets around to organising anything.

ingeniousidiot Sun 15-May-16 23:12:59

Once the claim has been filed against you (or whatever it's called) you get the opportunity to do a type of inital mediation by mail and/or telephone, but both parties have to agree to this.

FasterThanASnakeAndAMongoose Sun 15-May-16 23:14:23

6 months! We should be fine then. I hope he'll back down. He's best friends with our next door neighbour - all a bit tumbleweed.

SovietKitsch Sun 15-May-16 23:15:31

I was coming on to say, it would be 6 months ish before you got to a hearing anyway - but I see Kirin has already said it! I too have never heard of small claims by post...it isn't a thing...but there is a lot of toing and froing by post before you get to a hearing - he would need to issue a claim, then you file a defence, then directions from the court as to when you send the docs / statements you're going to rely on. Your builder might give up at any point along that path.

FasterThanASnakeAndAMongoose Sun 15-May-16 23:18:15

Thanks Soviet. I really hope he'd give up. We've offered him almost half what he's asking for anyway. Presumably it'll cost him to issue a claim?

JeffreySadsacIsUnwell Sun 15-May-16 23:25:49

I was called as a witness to a fatal road accident by the coroner's court. I was 9m pregnant at the time of the incident, had a breastfed 7mo by the time of the hearing. In the event my parents came to stay (though I think that was actually out of concern for me - it was bloody awful having to remember what I'd seen and I was a mess that evening) - and we finally got the baby to take a bottle the week before (she must have known - she refused bottles again the day after the hearing, never took another one!).

However, when I was trying to work out logistics, I was told that if I could find someone to look after the baby, that would be best for me (especially as I was likely to find the experience distressing/stressful), but that they could provide a room outside the courtroom for the baby and accompanying adult and could accommodate feeding breaks if needed.

SovietKitsch Sun 15-May-16 23:25:56

Yes it will cost him to issue a claim - anywhere between £70 (I think, might have gone up a bit) and £455 for sums up to £10,000 and then he would have to pay a hearing fee (up to £335 if it is below £10k), but you would have to pay him these if he won.

ingeniousidiot Sun 15-May-16 23:31:35

Ah, maybe it was just forms and letters going backwards and forwards - I thought there was a way to resolve things at that stage. The telephone mediation is definitely an option though. The case that I was involved in took 6 months to get to court, and that was brought forward by 3 weeks as the initial date was set for when I was out of the country (even though I'd stated on every form the dates that I was away!).

JamButtyLand Mon 16-May-16 00:35:24

15 feeds a day! Poor you. My ds was like that and refused a bottle. He was tongue tied hence so many feeds.
Good luck with the case

Dontlaugh Mon 16-May-16 00:47:55

I've fed 3, so feel your pain. I echo many others on here, by the time this reaches court, if it does, child will be on solids.
To be more practical - I would never bring a baby into a courtroom. I have been in one where proceedings were halted as mother would not leave with baby (who was about 10 months). Coroners court so maybe different. Lots of bereaved families, it simply was not appropriate for that baby to be there. Coroner halted everything and ordered her to find an appropriate minder for baby (she had to stay as a witness). A police officer minded the baby in the end, the mother was very resistant and I simply could not see her point, for the sake of a 30 minute hearing. I found the mother's approach simply ridiculous and couldn't understand it.
I hope you find a solution.

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