Once the case has been issued it will be allocated to a ‘track’. This sets out the process the claim has to follow and a timescale within which it should be done.
The three different tracks are:
- Small claims
- Fast track
| Small claims track
The small claims track is used for claims which are below £10,000, except for personal injury claims which are currently below £1,000. It is used for claims which are much simpler than the claims which are allocated to the fast/multi track. This track has been set up to be much more accessible by litigants in person and is designed to be less formal.
Despite the simplicity of this track, the court still has the power to grant remedies as it does in the multi-track and fast track claims. The small claims track is much quicker and cheaper as there is no need for the same level of pre-trial preparation, as there is with the fast and multi-track.
It is important to know there are only limited costs which are recoverable in small claims proceedings and expert evidence is often not permitted.
The procedure and the rules for the small claims are set out in CPR 27 and Practise Direction 27.
| Fast track claims
CPR 26.6 states that the fast track will be the right track for the claim if it is not suitable for the small claims track, and:
- The claim is worth between £10,000 and £25,000
- The trial is not estimated to last more than a day (5 hours)
- Oral expert evidence will be limited to:
- One expert per party per field
- Expert evidence in two fields
The fast track is also for personal injury claims between £1,000 and £25,000, or for non-money claims which are too complex for the small track and not complex enough for the multi-track.
This track is used to provide a quicker and simpler process to the multi-track lower value claims. The aim of the fast track is to provide a faster process and procedure to trial within a short timescale once the defence has been filed.
It is expected that fast track cases are heard in the County Court, however this is not expressly stated in the rules.
This track is governed by CPR 28 and Practise Direction 28.
| Multi track claims
This track is used for any claims over £25,000 and for claims which are too complex for the fast track. This track is much lengthier and there is a lot of procedure to follow within this track. It is common to take up to a year to reach the hearing due to the detailed procedure which must be followed beforehand.
Although this track is more detailed, it does provide the court with the ability to deal with the matter in the most suitable way possible to meet the needs of that specific case.
As there is no set procedure for the cases in a multi-track case, it is important for the directions to be agreed by both parties whenever possible and to be filed with court along with the direction’s questionnaire. This will then provide the case with a structure going forward and will help to keep progressing the case in a timely manner.
Should you feel that your case has been allocated to the incorrect track, you can request for this to be changed. This should be done by applying to the court to request a change. It is at the discretion of the court to re-allocate a claim to a different track. The criteria set out in CPR 26.8(1) may be considered along with any other relevant factors. If the value of a case changes during the matter, it will not automatically be reallocated to the normal track for the revised valuation. When the court re-allocates the matter to a different track, all parties must be notified of this change.