Tracks’ are formal court procedures that allow court claims to be dealt with efficiently and cost-effectively. Simply put, this means that if your claim goes to court, then it can be handled in the most suitable way. The track your case is allocated to depends on the value of your claim and how long a trial might take:
- If your claim is under £10,000 it will be allocated to the small claims track
- If your claim is worth between £10,000 and £25,000 it will be allocated to the fast track
- If your claim is worth £25,000 or under – but the issues are more complex requiring a trial that will take more than one day, it may be allocated to the multi-track
- If your claim is worth more than £25,000 it will be allocated to the multi-track
What’s the fast track?
The fast track is for straightforward claims with lower value and can usually be dealt with in a one-day trial. This track is the ‘norm’ for most cases, and a final hearing usually takes place within 30 weeks. It’s possible for a claim to be re-allocated from fast track to multi-track. For example, if your case becomes more complicated than expected.
What’s the multi-track?
Usually, cases that aren’t suitable for the fast track will be allocated to the multi-track. This includes claims with a value of more than £25,000, and cases that are more complex – for example, if they need more than one expert witness.
Early on, the court will hold a ‘case management conference’ (CMC). This is an informal hearing where the parties and judge, meet to talk about the progress of your case and decide how to move forward.
There’s no standard procedure for how cases go through the multi-track. The timetable can vary from case to case, depending on the type of claim, and how complex it becomes. Multi-track cases usually take longer than fast track, with the final trial often taking a number of days.
At what point is your claim allocated to a track?
Once you’ve decided you’d like to go ahead with a claim, your lawyer will get the ball rolling by sending a ‘Claim Form’ and ‘Particulars of Claim’ to the court. These documents give the details of your claim and its value.
The court will then let the other party know about your intention to claim. They’ll either admit responsibility or file a defence and deny ‘liability’. If this happens, then your claim will be allocated to the appropriate track at this point.
What about the legal costs?
If you win your claim, the defendant will normally have to pay your legal costs. But if you lose your case, you’ll need to cover the other party’s expenses.
Costs in the fast track are fixed. This means we can claim a set amount for the costs of preparing your case and representing you at the final hearing. In the multi-track, we can ask the other party to pay all our costs, as there’s no fixed limit.
At the end of the case, the court will make a ‘costs order’ – this sets out what costs must be paid by which party.