Take a business dispute to the Mercantile Court
How to take a dispute with another company to the Mercantile Court if you run a small or medium sized business.
Cases dealt with by the court
You can use the Mercantile Court for a wide range of commercial, business and professional disputes, including cases about:
- contracts and business documents
- banking and financial services
- buying, selling and transporting goods
- professional negligence
- arbitration claims and awards
- confidential information
- commercial agencies
Read the Mercantile Court guide for details of how to use the court.
Help and support
Mercantile Court cases are often complex and can be expensive, so you may wish to get legal advice first.
You can then decide if you want to go ahead, and if you’d like help from a lawyer.
Court staff can explain how the process works, but can’t give you any advice.
Before you start
Unless your case is urgent, you should write a short letter or email to the other side before you start court action.
Explain what your case is about. Include the key dates and issues, and attach copies of the main documents, like contracts or invoices.
You could also try to negotiate an agreement or use an alternative to court like mediation.
Start a court case
To start a case, fill in the relevant form below:
You’ll need to use the part 7 form for most types of claim.
Use the part 8 form if the main facts aren’t in dispute. (For example, if you just disagree with the way a contract has been interpreted.)
Use the arbitration form if you’re contesting an arbitration claim or award.
Write ‘Mercantile Court’ or ‘London Mercantile Court’ on the top of the claim form.
Where to take or send your form
You can use the main Mercantile Court in London, or one of the local courts listed below.
London Mercantile Court
- Birmingham Mercantile Court
- Bristol Mercantile Court
- Cardiff Mercantile Court
- Chester Mercantile Court
- Liverpool Mercantile Court
- Leeds Mercantile Court
- Manchester Mercantile Court
- Mold Mercantile Court
- Newcastle Mercantile Court
- Swansea Mercantile Court
Pay the court fee
You will need to pay a court fee to start the case. This will be based on how much you want to claim from the other side.
|Claim amount up to…||Court fee|
|£200,000||5% of the amount|
If your case is worth more than £200,000 the fee is £10,000.
You can pay with cash, a credit/debit card, or a postal order or cheque (paid to ‘HM Courts and Tribunals Service’).
You may have to pay another £1,090 fee for a court trial later on.
Serve the forms
The court will stamp a copy of your claim form. Give or send this copy to the person or company who will be defending the claim, known as the defendant.
You must also give them:
- an acknowledgment of service form
- notes for the defendant
- details of your case, known as the particulars of claim
The particulars document should be up to 20 pages long and include the arguments and facts in support of your case.
You can send the particulars with the form or within the next 28 days.
Send the court a certificate of service to confirm you’ve sent the documents.
Find out more about how to serve the form.
After you serve the form
The defendant has 14 days to acknowledge the claim. If they do this, they can ask for more time to respond.
They have 28 days to respond to the claim once you’ve given them both the claim form and the particulars.
If they don’t respond you can ask the court to make a judgment in your favour.
Case management conference
If they defend the claim, you will have the chance to send a written reply to their points.
You should then ask the court to organise a meeting known as a ‘case management conference’.
This is a meeting with the judge and the other side to discuss:
- a date for the trial
- how the case will be managed
- producing documents
- arranging for witnesses and experts to give evidence
You and the defendant may be asked to use the same experts, to save on costs.
You may have to go to another meeting before the trial to check that you’re ready.
The trial will be in front of a Mercantile Judge.
Both sides will have the chance to:
- make opening and closing statements
- call expert witnesses
- present expert reports
- question the witnesses
The courtroom will usually be open to the public.
In most cases you won’t find out the decision on the final day of the hearing.
The court will usually send you a copy of the draft judgment, to check for typos or other textual errors.
The judge will then issue the judgment.
If you disagree with the decision
If you disagree with the decision, you can ask the court for permission to appeal.
If you’re turned down you can still apply to the higher court for permission.
Find out more about using the Court of Appeal.
Claiming back legal costs
You may be able to claim back these costs if you win, but you could be made to pay the defendant’s costs if you lose.
The judge will take into account how both sides acted during the case before deciding to allow or award costs.
The court’s decisions on earlier cases are published on the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) website.