Allocation to the multi-track
The multi-track is for more complex or expensive cases – typically for claims of more than £25,000. Any case not allocated to either the small claims track or fast track will be dealt with on the muti-track. There are no standard procedures for multi-track cases: courts are expected to adopt a flexible approach to ensure each case is dealt with appropriately.
The judge will give directions for the management of the case and set a timetable for the steps to be taken between the giving of directions and the trial. This will include issues such as disclosure (telling the other party about any documents you have which may be relevant to the case) and inspection (when you look at the documents on the other party’s disclosure list and request copies of the ones you want to look at).
Case management conference
Case management conferences are called at the discretion of the judge. They are informal meetings which allow all the parties and the judge to review the progress of a case and for the judge to make whatever orders regarding further steps s/he thinks necessary. Requests for interim relief orders may also be made.
If you’re legally represented, the lawyer who attends on your behalf needs to be one who is fully familiar with the file, the issues and the proposed evidence. If they are not and this leads to hearing being adjourned, it will usually result in a wasted costs order being made.
The parties are expected to try to agree directions for the management of the proceedings and submit these to the court at least seven days before any case management conference. Where the court approves the agreed directions, or issues its own directions, the parties will be notified by the court and the case management conference won’t go ahead.
Control of evidence
The court may control the evidence by giving directions as to:
- the issues on which it requires evidence;
- the nature of the evidence which it requires to decide those issues; and
- the way in which the evidence is to be placed before the court.
The court has the power to exclude evidence that would otherwise be admissible and may limit cross-examination.
The court will send the parties a pre-trial check list (listing questionnaire) around 10 weeks before the trial date. You will usually have two weeks to complete and submit it, together with the required fee.
The pre-trial check list is a form used to determine whether the parties have completed all requirements set out in the directions to prepare for trial, and if not, which ones need to be completed and when will they be completed by. You should also list the number of witnesses who will be giving evidence and provide an updated time estimate for trial if necessary.
If no party files the completed pre-trial checklist by the date specified, the court will order that unless a completed pre-trial checklist is filed within seven days, the claim, defence and any counterclaim will be struck out without further order of the court.
If a party files a completed pre-trial checklist but another party does not; a party has failed to give all the information requested by the pre-trial checklist; or the court feels that a hearing is necessary to enable it to decide what directions to give to complete preparation of the case for trial, the court may give such directions as it thinks appropriate.
After the pre-trial checklists have been submitted, the judge may call the parties to a pre-trial review. This allows the judge to draw up a timetable for the trial, including decisions on who will give evidence and in what order, the papers that will be needed at the trial (and the date this ‘trial bundle’ will need to be delivered to the court), and the time to be allowed for the trial.