Know Your Rights – Q & A with Citizens Information Service


Small Claims Court

I am not happy with work that I had done in my house by a builder and will have to pay for someone else to finish the job properly. What can I do to recoup the additional expense?
If your original builder is unwilling to compensate you, you may be able to pursue a claim against the builder through the Small Claims procedure. The aim of this procedure is to provide an inexpensive, fast and easy way for consumers to resolve disputes without needing to employ a solicitor. The maximum amount you can claim is €2,000. The Small Claims service is provided through local District Court offices.

Anyone who has purchased goods or services for private use from someone selling them in the course of business may submit a claim using the Small Claims procedure. You can make claims for faulty goods or bad workmanship, minor damage to property and for the non-return of rent deposits for certain kinds of rented properties. Businesses involved in disputes with other businesses can also use the Small Claims procedure.

To make a claim, you complete an application form, which you can get from the Small Claims Registrar at your local District Court office. You can also get help in completing the form from the Registrar. Make sure you use the correct name and address of the person or company against whom you want to make the claim. The completed form with a fee of €25 should be lodged with the Small Claims Registrar. You can also apply online at the Courts Service Online website:

The Registrar sends a copy of your application to the person against whom you are making the claim. If the other party does not reply within 15 days of receiving your application, your claim will be automatically treated as undisputed and you can apply for a court order in your favour. But, if your claim is disputed, the Registrar will contact you and let you have a copy of the reasons why the other party is disputing your claim. The Registrar will try to negotiate a settlement to the dispute. If no settlement can be reached, the matter is then set down for a court hearing in the District Court.

You can get more information on your options from the Citizens Information Centre below.

My partner and I are expecting a baby in September. Can I claim the new Paternity Benefit? Are there any other benefits I can claim?
Paternity Benefit is a new payment for employed and self-employed people who are on paternity leave from work and covered by social insurance (PRSI). The PRSI classes that count for Paternity Benefit are A, E, H (with the exception of serving members of the Defence Forces), and S (self-employed).

Paternity Benefit is paid for two weeks (in one block) and is available for any child born or adopted on or after 1 September 2016. You can start paternity leave at any time within the first six months following the birth or adoption placement. If you are already getting certain social welfare payments, then you may get half-rate Paternity Benefit.

You must notify your employer four weeks before you intend to go on paternity leave (12 weeks if you are self-employed). You must provide proof of the expected date of birth (this is a certificate from your spouse’s or partner’s doctor confirming when the baby is due) or confirmation of the birth if you are applying after the baby has been born. In the case of adoption, you must produce a certificate of placement.

Paternity Benefit is available from September 1st, 2016. You can apply online at for Paternity Benefit from 5 September 2016 (your payment will be backdated if necessary). You must have a Public Services Card to apply for Paternity Benefit.

You can also claim up to 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave from work (until your child’s eighth birthday – or 16th if they have a disability). Both parents have a separate entitlement to 18 weeks’ parental leave.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre.