Allocation to a track

Courts can allocate cases to particular tracks which allow them to better manage the proceedings in an efficient way. There are three tracks that you should be aware of:

  1. The small claims track; this is used for low value money claims;
  2. The fast track which is the standard track on which most cases proceed and the
  3. Multi track. This is reserved for more complex cases.

Once proceedings have been issued and a defence filed, the Court will usually assign a case to a particular track depending on what kind of case it is. The parties will be sent a directions questionnaire   which will be used by the Courts to make case management directions with respect to each case. In multi track cases, additional documents need to be prepared. This include a case summary, a disclosure report and a costs budget and budget discussion report.

Part 26 of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) provides for the allocation of defended cases to one of 3 tracks; namely the small claims track, the fast track or the multi-track; CPR 26.1.

Which track a case is allocated to reflects the time and resources appropriate for its just disposal at a proportionate cost; CPR 1.1.

In most cases, the starting point for allocation to a particular track is the value of the claim (or counterclaim). As far as value is concerned, the small claims track is the normal track for any claim which has a value of not more than £10,000, the fast track for claims with a value of more than £10,000 but not more than £25,000 and the multi-track for any other. The scope of each track is set out fully in CPR 26.6.

The balance between the small claims track and fast track

Whether a case is allocated to the small claims track or fast track is of considerable significance in relation to the recoverability of costs.

It may be in the interests of a party to have a case allocated to the fast track to justify instructing lawyers and to be able to recover the costs of doing so. On the other hand, the allocation of a case to the small claims track preventing a party recovering the costs of legal representation may be of tactical advantage.