Every civil claim brought to Court is allocated a track based on the value, time required and the complexity of the case. Each track directs where the claims are heard within the Civil Court Structure. There are three tracks that claims can be allocated within:
- 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.
As always, both parties should make every effort to settle disputes outside of Court through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to avoid expensive legal costs, high stresses on both parties, and time in Court. If you are unable to settle before court, then both parties should continue with ADR in mind during the proceedings, if it becomes available, accessible and appropriate.
As the Small Claims track is directed to cases with a value, negotiation, and other forms of settlements outside of the hearing are strongly advised and recommended to ensure the legal costs do not exceed the value of the claim.
Within the Small Claims Track’s first hearings, you do not have to attend and can request that the court deals with your case in your absence. You also have the ability to represent yourself in court, in a further attempt to decrease the costs of your claim. Alternatively, you may choose to have a legal representative, or a ‘lay representative’. This can be anyone of your choosing, even a relative, friend, spouse or adviser. Although, if you choose to have a lay representative, they cannot represent you in your absence, you must attend with them unless you receive permission from the Court. Once in the Court, the Judges should be addressed as ‘Sir’ and ‘Madam’.
To further ensure the legal costs are limited, measures are put in place within the Small Claims track to decrease the costs. For example, a case may be heard either in a courtroom, or in a Judge’s room with you and the other party around a table. The latter is often preferred. The hearings are often less formal to further aid in lower legal costs.
The trials within the Small Claims track are often very concise, again to lower the legal costs for both parties. During the hearing, the judge will ask for your name and your position in the claim. (Defendant or Claimant) The judge should then explain how the hearing will be heard, this is case dependent. It is likely that the Claimant will speak first, explaining their reasons and/or evidence to support their claim. This will be followed by the Defendant, to query the claimant about their statement and any evidence given. Both parties are given the opportunity to question each other. Once the hearing is complete, the judge will give their decision and provide a brief explanation for it.
It is also worth noting, that during the trial, evidence allowances are limited in a final attempt to lower the legal costs for both parties involved.
If you would like any more information or would like to discuss how the Lawdit team can get assist you, please do not hesitate to get in touch today.