When a claim is brought at court, the court will allocate it to one of three 'tracks'; the small claims track, the fast track and the multi-track. The small claims track is supposed to be a proportionate method of dealing with straightforward cases of limited value. As you will see, this does not mean that the operation of the track is always fair.
The small claims track is governed by Part 27 of the Civil Procedure Rules.
When will a claim be allocated to the small claims track?
After a defence to a claim is sent to the Court, the parties to the claim will be sent an allocation questionnaire by the Court. Using this form, the parties will inform the Court of certain facts about the claim, including how many witnesses they intend to rely on, whether they intend to rely on expert evidence and how long the trial of the claim is likely to take. Using this information, along with the value of the claim as set out on the claim form, the Court will allocate the case to the appropriate track.
As a general rule, a case will be allocated to the small claims track when it has a value of not more than £5000. The exceptions to this rule are;
(a) In personal injury cases, the claim will only be allocated to the small claims track if the value of the claim as a whole is not more than £5000 and the value of any claim for damages for personal injuries is not more than £1000; and
(b) Claims by tenants against landlords for an order that the landlord carry out repairs will only be allocated to the small claims track if the estimated value of the repairs is not more than £1000 and the value of any other claim for damages is not more than £1000.
However, courts will also consider other facts in deciding what track to allocate a claim to, including its complexity, the number of parties, the amount of evidence required and the importance of the claim to the general public.
Accordingly, a straightforward claim following the breakdown of an agreement between two parties, with a financial value of less than £5000, will most likely be allocated to the small claims track.
How does the small claims track work?
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