As soon as a civil claim is filed with a court, it is allocated within a ‘track’, the track it is placed within will ultimately decide how the case is handled, where it is heard and who presides over the case and is dependent on the value and complexity of the case’ contents. A civil claim can be placed within one of three tracks:
- Small Claims Track – This track is specific for lower value and lower complexity cases, often with a value of up to £10,000.
- Fast Track – This track hears claims worth a value between £10,000 and £25,000.
- Multi Track – This track is specific to cases for the value of £25,000 and upwards.
Within every civil claim, Alternative Dispute Resolution [ADR], a process that enables parties to settle a dispute outside of the court, should be considered before it reaches the court, and the proceedings. This overriding aim of ADR is to reduce the legal costs, avoid unnecessary stresses on either party and decrease the court time. If you are placed into the Multi-Claims Track, it is likely to mean that the facts of your case are more complicated than the cases in the Small-Claims Track or the Fast-Claims Track.
The Multi-Claims Track also gives the court the ability to deal with the claim in the most suitable way according to the facts of the case, meaning that there is no standard procedure for a case within this track. You are also able to get legal help, as cases here often reach a trial. It is also worth noting that some solicitors may only help you on the basis that, if you lose your case, you may have to pay the costs of the other side.
Case Management Conference:
This is a hearing where both parties and the judge review the progress of the case thus far. It may include:
• Reviewing the steps taken by both parties to prepare for the case so far and ensuring both sides have followed any directions given previously by the judge.
• The judge may give further directions to ensure both sides understand each other’s claims.
• Making note of any agreement made by the parties regarding any part of the case.
• Setting a timetable for any other steps which the judge considers necessary.
• Monitoring costs.
This may take place after the judge has looked through the pre-trial checklists. It enables decisions regarding:
- The Trial timetable.
- What order evidence will be given during the trial.
- The content of a trial bundle, and the date this must be delivered to the court.
- The estimated time for the trial.
A Multi-Claims Track case will usually take place in court before a circuit judge, who would be addressed as ‘Your Honour’. The Judge is likely to hear from the claimant then the defendant, with each person, or their barrister, given the opportunity to speak and ask questions to any witnesses. This is also known as ‘cross-examination’. The judge may also ask some questions before arriving at a decision.