With few exceptions, all civil claims are brought in the County Court, although claims over £50,000 or with very complex facts may also be brought in the High Court.
Money claims can now be issued from the Money Claims Centre in Salford. If defended, the case will then be transferred to the County Court Hearing Centre for the district where the defendant lives. Non money claims can still be issued out of the claimant’s local county court. Certain types of cases have to be brought or will be transferred, if defended, to the court for the area where the claimant lives.
County court claims are usually heard and will be managed by a district judge. They will be dealt with in accordance with the civil procedure rules (CPR). These rules include a number of ‘protocols’ and objectives which must be complied with. The overriding objective is for the court to deal with a case justly and so far as is practical to ensure that:
a) the parties are on an equal footing;
b) expense is saved;
c) the case is dealt with in ways which are proportionate:
a. to the amount of money involved;
b. to the importance of the case;
c. to the complexity of the issues; and
d. to the ﬁnancial position of each party;
d) the case is dealt with expeditiously and fairly; and
e) an appropriate share of the courts resources are alloted, while taking into account the need to allot resources to other cases.
The parties in a case are required to help the court to further these overriding objectives, and the judge is required to actively manage a case by:
a) encouraging the parties to co-operate with each other in the conduct of the proceedings;
b) identifying the issues at an early stage;
c) deciding promptly which issues need full investigation and trial and accordingly disposing summarily of the others;
d) deciding the order in which issues are to be resolved.
Money claims under £10,000 will usually be allocated to the small claims track and dealt with under a special, less formal procedure. The amount of costs which the winning side can recover is strictly limited.
Claims of between £10,000 and £15,000 are likely to be allocated to the fast track. This track is appropriate where the documentation to prove the case is not extensive, where any expert evidence can be given in writing, where the time to prepare for trial does not exceed 30 weeks, and where the trial is not likely to last for more than one day.
All other cases will be allocated to the multi-track, where is no standard procedure. Each case will be managed by a judge individually, usually by calling a case conference, which all parties will attend, and where directions will be given.
What are my options to make someone who owes me money pay up? Do I have to go to court? I really don't want all the hassle of that.
Court proceedings should always be the last resort. There are a number of alternatives, and they should always be tried before rushing into court action. We have a guide which explains here..
What is a pre-action protocol?
Pre-action protocols are the steps which someone must take before commencing court proceedings. They basically provide for early disclosure of documents and information, to encourage settlement and avoid the need for court action. There are separate published protocols for different civil claims, and even where no protocol exists, the court will expect a case to be dealt with in the same spirit as an approved protocol. Costs penalties are likely to be imposed if a protocol is not complied with.
What are the rules about costs? Will I be able to claim for all my time and expense if I win my case?
The judge in a case always has discretion to order that costs are paid by one party in a case to the other. The usual rule is that the unsuccessful party pays the successful party’s costs. However, in certain circumstances a successful party can be refused his costs if, for example, he unreasonably refuses to consider mediation as an alternative to litigation or has acted unreasonably in his conduct of the case here.
Can I claim my costs as a litigant in person?
Yes. You can read about litigant in persons costs at http://old.lawzone.legal/litigant-in-persons-costs/
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