When civil proceedings have been issued, the case will be allocated to one of three ‘tracks’. The track to which a case is allocated depends mostly on the value of the claim.
What cases are allocated to the fast track?
The fast track is the normal track for cases falling into the £5,000 to £25,000 bracket, and which can be dealt with by a trial which will not exceed a day. The following cases will normally be allocated to the fast track:
- Personal injuries cases with a financial value between £5,000 and £15,000;
- Personal injuries cases with an overall value under £5,000, but where the damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity are likely to exceed £1,000;
- Claims by residential tenants for orders requiring their landlords to carry out repairs or other work to the premises where the financial value of the claim is between £1,000 and £25,000;
- Other categories of cases, where the financial value of the claim is between £5,000 and £25,000.
What directions are given?
When it allocates a case to the fast track, the court will send an allocation notice to the parties. This will include case management directions given by the District Judge which set a timetable for the steps to be taken from now through to trial. Those steps include disclosure, listing questionnaires and filing witness statements.
If any direction or order is required that has not been provided for, it is the parties’ duty to make an application as soon as possible to avoid undue interference with the overall timetable. Fast track directions will be tailored to the circumstances of each case.
The requirement for disclosure means the claimant must tell the defendant about relevant documents and communications in their possession. These include anything that supports or undermines their claim, and that supports the defendant’s case.
Experts in fast track claims
The use of single joint experts in civil claims is encouraged by the civil court rules. The court has power to direct that the evidence on particular issues may be given by a single expert jointly instructed by the opposing parties. Typically, a single joint expert will be appointed because of the disproportionate cost of having two experts – one for each side.
In fast track cases, the court will not direct an expert to attend at trial unless it is necessary to do so in the interests of justice. Normally, expert evidence would be prepared and ready for exchange about 14 weeks after the order giving directions.
For more information on:
- Pre-trial checklists
- Pre-trial directions
- Trial bundles
- Failing to pay the pre-trial fee
- Fast track trials
- Fast track costs