If you are thinking of issuing or have just issued a claim in the Courts, you need to consider allocation and how that may affect your case. Read on to find out more about the allocation process and the different ‘tracks’ in the courts.
What is allocation and when does it take place?
Allocation is the process by which a judge decides which procedural ‘track’ your claim belongs to. This is an important part of a judge’s case management powers, as proper allocation leads to the best use of available time and resources for all parties involved.
Allocation takes place after the claim has been issued and served and the Defendant has established that they will defend the claim. At this point, the parties will be served with a Notice of Proposed Allocation, stating the track which provisionally appears to be the most suitable for the claim. The parties will also be asked to complete a Directions Questionnaire. Your legal representative can help you complete this form.
Once the Directions Questionnaires have been filed with the court, the claim will then be allocated.
How does the court allocate claims?
A judge will decide which track a claim should be allocated to based on various factors, including:
- The financial value of the claim
- The remedy sought by the Claimant
- The complexity of the claim
- The number of parties and witnesses
- The need for expert evidence
Some claims are automatically allocated to the Multi-track. These include claims made in the Commercial Court and claims made under Part 8 of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).
What are the different tracks and what difference does it make for me?
There are three different tracks: the Multi-track, Fast track and Small claims track.
This is generally the appropriate track for claims where the financial value of the case is more than £25,000 and the trial is expected to last longer than one day. These claims can be heard in either the High Court or the County Court.
Cases allocated to this track are usually more complex and as such the applicable procedures allow for more flexibility.
This is generally the appropriate track for claims where the financial value of the case is between £10,000 and £25,000. For most cases, trial would not be expected to last longer than a day. These claims are usually heard in the County Court.
Small claims track
This is generally the appropriate track for claims where the financial value of the case is below £10,000. This track has a simplified procedure compared to the Multi-track and the Fast track, making it easier for litigants in person.
What difference does it make for me?
One of the most important consequences of allocation is the recoverability of your incurred costs in proceedings. In the Small claims track, generally speaking the recoverability of costs is extremely limited. If you are thinking of making a claim that would be allocated to the Small claims track, you would need to carefully consider if the remedy you seek is worth the costs you would incur for the court process.
How do I know which track my claim has been allocated to?
Once the Court has allocated the claim, each party will be served with a Notice of Allocation. This will confirm which track your claim has been allocated to and the steps you need to take next.
What happens if my claim is not allocated to the right track?
The Directions Questionnaire has not been completed properly
If you have not provided the correct information in the Directions Questionnaire and this has led to the Court allocating your claim to the wrong track, you may need to contact the Court and re-file the Direction Questionnaire. You also need to be aware of any potential costs sanctions you could face.
The Court has made an error in allocating my claim
Your claim may not have been allocated to the correct track due to an administrative error by the Court. You can write to the Court in this situation to rectify the mistake, however this can lead to delays in time and increased costs. To avoid this, it is always best to make sure you check that the claim has been properly allocated when you receive the Notice of Allocation.
At TV Edwards, our Dispute Resolution solicitors are experts in all aspects of civil procedure and litigation. We are able to guide you through the process of allocation and assist with all steps, such as completing the Directions Questionnaire and filing this with the Court. If you would like to find out more about the services we can offer you, please contact the Dispute Resolution team at TV Edwards Solicitors LLP.