top of page

Civil Courts and CPR (Civil Procedure Rules) 

Our experienced team understands the complexities of civil litigation and works closely with clients and law firms to navigate the civil court process effectively. We provide comprehensive advice on the CPR and how it applies to each  case,  ensuring that legal rights are protected and enforced. Our packages for law firms are competitive as an alternative to instructing a Barrister.

In court

County Court

The County Court deals with civil matters which includes contract and tort (e.g. personal injury), recovery of land, bankruptcy, insolvency, contested probate actions (less than £30,000) and many other types of claims, including Equality Act 2010 claims, that are less than £25,000 in value.

 

There are three routes to which claims are allocated based on their value and complexity; small claims, fast track and multi-track.

 

All cases have to comply with Civil Procedures Rules here.  If any party does not this can cause them to lose their case, and/or face hefty Court orders to pay the other parties costs.

 

Pre-action protocols provide a framework for parties to resolve disputes without involving the court here. The court may impose costs sanctions on parties who fail to comply with the pre-action protocols.  

 

Even after proceedings have been issued, the courts encourage parties to engage in alternative dispute resolution (ADR). This can take the form of direct negotiations or mediation here. Again, there is a risk of costs penalties being imposed by the court against any party or parties if they unreasonably refuse to engage in ADR, even if that party succeeds at trial.

 

Another method used for resolving claims against professionals is arbitration. It is most frequently used in claims involving construction professionals in circumstances where the parties have entered into a contract and it provides for any disputes arising from the contractual works to be referred to arbitration.  It can also be used in Employment cases as well as Civil cases.

 

Arbitration is a non-judicial means of resolving disputes where the parties appoint an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators. Arbitration is sometimes a quicker and cheaper means of dispute resolution than litigation. It has the benefit of being a confidential process but enforceable by the court. The arbitrator's decision is binding on the parties and there are limited grounds of appeal.

Small Claims Track

The Small Claims track deals with claims which are worth up to £10,000 (not including personal injury or housing disrepair).  HM Courts & Tribunals Service detail the process here.   From 22 May 2024 mediation in small claims track is now mandatory.   

 

To start a small claim on any track, you must complete a Form N1 here or if special proceedings the claim may require commencing under CPR Part 8.  You can also lodge the claim through a new online service.  The claim is then issued in one of the two bulk processing centres and a copy served upon the Defendant. The above link also provides information for defendants to a claim.

 

This track is for straightforward cases.  The preparation for trial process is simplified without the formalities of a traditional trial. Cases allocated to the small claims track are often disputes being handled in person without either party legally represented.  A small claims case is conducted informally at the Judge’s discretion and may be concluded in an hour or half a day.

We can assist on an ad hoc basis to advice and guide a party through the process and we do so on a fixed fee pay as you go basis.

 

The rules about recovering legal costs on the small claims track are different to higher value claims, and there are few exceptions. Such exceptions include fees for a limited amount of legal advice in relation to a claim for an injunction or an order for specific performance; reimbursement of court fees and reasonable travel expenses incurred by witnesses; recovery of a capped sum in respect of experts’ fees. 

 

The general rule of costs that the loser pays the winners costs, does not apply to cases heard on the small claims track. It is however, worth noting that costs can be awarded as a penalty to a party who has behaved unreasonably prior to and during the course of the proceedings whcih can apply to small claims costs.

Fast Track 

Fast track claims are those with a value between £10,000 and £25,000.  The majority of our ongoing cases are those allocated to this track and the multi track which we deal with below. Fast-track and Multi-track cases have formal hearings and the strict rules of evidence apply.

 

In all of the tracks the Court actively uses its case management powers to ensure that costs are kept to a minimum and that a strict timetable of directions is adhered to by the parties.  The processes to be followed leading to a trial include,  disclosing evidence, preparing witness statements and, if necessary, commissioning an independent experts report, usually from an agreed single joint expert. Any party who does not comply with the timetable will be penalised by the Court, and this known as sanctions.  There can be applications made for relief from sanctions, however, these are difficult to succeed with once you have breached an order.  It is better to seek legal advice if you become out of your depth with the legal process, because missing a deadline can cause you to lose the case altogether and have to face paying the other parties costs too.

 

In general, the aim in fast track cases is to resolve all the issues at a trial lasting no more than one day. To be able to recover costs after a trial finishes it is important that there should be a schedule setting out what they are to assist the Judge in making an order for costs.  

 

In fast track cases the costs payable for legal representation at the trial are fixed and are dependent on the value of the claim. Therefore, it is unlikely that the winner would recover its full costs from its opponent. It should be noted that the winner remains liable for the remainder of its legal representatives’ fees despite an order for costs having been made against the loser.

Intermediate Track (from 1 October 2023)

From 1 October 2023 a new track has been implemented within the Civil Courts for cases valued between £25,000 to £100,000.  For all claims falling within this track there are fixed recoverable costs applied.  The Court will have discretion to allocate any case to this track where it promotes access to justice, and falls within the complexity bands 1 - 4

 

Complexity Band 1

Any claim where:
(a)  Only one issue is in dispute; and
(b)  The trial is not expected to last longer than one day;

Including:
(i)  Personal Injury claims where liability or quantum (value) is in dispute;
(ii)  Non-Personal Injury road traffic claims; and
(iii) Defended debt claims.

Complexity Band 2

Any less complex claim where more than one issue is in dispute, including Personal Injury accident claims where liability and quantum (value) are in dispute.

Complexity Band 3

Any more complex claim where more than one issue is in dispute, but which is unsuitable for assignment to complexity band 2;

Including Noise Induced Hearing Loss and other Employer Liability disease claims.

Complexity Band 4 

Any claim which would normally be allocated to the intermediate track, but which is unsuitable for assignment to complexity bands 1 to 3, including any Personal Injury claim where there are serious issues of fact or law.

 

Although, the track does not apply to all cases, only those where it is a claim for a debt, damages or other monetary relief, but no higher than £100,000.  The track does deal with cases where they are not suitable for the small claims or fast track.  In terms of other criteria it applies to cases where they would not require a trial of more than 3 days and there can be no more than  two expert witnesses.  There is also a limit of three parties involved i.e. one Claimant, two defendants.  The track does not apply to the following types of cases:-

 

  • mesothelioma or asbestos lung disease claim, or clinical negligence;

  • in cases such as harm, abuse, or neglect of children or vulnerable adults;

  • claims against the police for an intentional or re3ckless tort;

  • relief or remedy in relation to a remedy for breach of Human Rights ;

  • road traffic accidents arising from negligent police driving;

  • employer liability claims;

  • any other claim for an accidental fall on police premises

  • Claims for personal injury will fall within the new fixed recoverable costs rules under the Intermediate Track where the cause of action accrued after 1 October 2023 i.e. if a tripping accident it happens after 1 October 2023.  

    Multi Track

    Claims with a value exceeding £25,000 will ordinarily be allocated to the multi track.  However, see the Intermediate Track above implemented on 1 October 2023.  Multi-Track cases can vary in complexity, and the Court is rather strict on drawing up a timetable of case management directions to keep the cases on track, so to speak.  More complicated cases may need a number of pre-trial hearings or Case Management Conferences to narrow the issues and to ensure that all the information necessary is gathered prior to trial. Multi track cases are now also subject to costs management by the Court.

    At the conclusion of a multi track trial the Judge will decide which party should pay costs but is unlikely to determine the exact amount payable. If the parties cannot agree on the amount of costs payable, a different Judge will hold a separate hearing at a later date via a process called detailed assessment where the party in whose favour costs were awarded will submit a detailed breakdown of its costs and its opponent will be given the opportunity to challenge its expenditure. Where a costs management order has been made the Court is unlikely to depart from a party’s agreed cost budget unless there is good reason to do so.


    Costs

    The general rule in relation to costs in Fast and Multi Track cases is that the loser will be ordered to pay the winner’s costs.  There are fixed costs within the Fast Track for personal injury and professional negligence cases.   Generally, in fast and multi-track cases, as with the new Intermediate track, the loser will not only have to meet its own costs but also those of its opponent.   In multi track cases the winner will not recover all of its costs as the loser will invariably challenge the amount of the winner’s costs in detailed assessment.   In these circumstances the winner may expect to recover between 65% and 90% of its total costs and again they will remain liable for the balance of its legal representatives’ fees.

    The various tables of fixed recoverable costs which we can explain to you can be found on the gov.uk website here.

     

    Court Fees & Exemptions

    When commencing a claim if you are unable to or struggle to pay the fee at the time you lodge the claim,, the Court will not process this.  Unless you are exempt, Court fees cannot be avoided. You can find details of Court fees here.

     

    You can find out if you are exempt from paying Court fees by obtaining Leaflet EX50 from the Courts’ website here or visiting your local County Court. 

    The fees that are payable to the County & High Court will be payable at various stages from the point of issuing a claim form, for a trial fee and if you have to make any applications during the proceedings.

    High Court

    Civil Proceedings (whether for damages or for a specified sum) may only be started in the High Court if the value of the claim is more than £100,000.  Proceedings which include a claim for damages in respect of personal injuries may only be started in the High Court if the value of the claim is £50,000 or more.

    As explained under the County Court above, there are Civil Procedure Rules also applied in the High Court. You can find out more about the High Court here.

     

    There are three Divisions to the High Court which are the King's Bench Division ("KBD")  (formerly the Queen's Bench), Chancery Division and Family Division.  The High Court deals with all high value cases and they supervise the County Court and various Tribunals and they deal with applications for judicial review which is a procedure that establishes if a decision made by the government and other public bodies has been reached in the correct way..  There is also a Business and Property Court.  Each Division deals with specific types of claims which are unsuitable for the County Court.  There are also specialist Courts within the various Divisions.   The KBD includes within it a number of specialist courts: Administrative, Admiralty, Commercial, Planning, Technology and Construction, and Civil and Media and Communications Lists.    The KBD and Chancery Division are the main ones we deal in for the type of cases we represent which means that we follow the Civil Procedure Rules and refer to the KBD and Chancery Guides here and here.

    bottom of page