Choosing a Court

Assuming you have to litigate, the first question to ask is which Court you should bring proceedings in. In England and Wales, civil disputes are dealt with either by the County Court or the High Court. For cases involving small debts, there is also a service called Money Claim Online. This is a fast and effective way of dealing with low value money claims.

But let’s assume your case is of a high value. If the value of the claim is £100,000 or less, it must be started in the county court.

If the value exceeds £100,000 it may be commenced in the High Court.

So, normally, there is a mandatory exclusion from the High Court where the case is worth less than £100,000. There is a discretion as to whether a case should be commenced in the High Court. Different rules apply to cases that include a claim for personal injury. These cannot be started in the High Court unless the value is £50,000 or more.

For claims in excess of £100,000, the claimant has a choice of which Court to use. Further guidance is provided by the CPR to help lawyers think about which Court to use. These indicate that, in addition to the value of the case, the following factors may be relevant. These include where the claim is very complex, or where the outcome is important to the public in general.

So, let’s assume your case is worth in excess of £100,000. Your job with respect to choosing a Court will be to carefully weight up a number of relevant factors. Is the case particularly complex? Could it be easily resolved by a local County Court? All of these questions are relevant to where the case will be heard, but they are also relevant questions for the purpose of professional ethics. It will not be in your client’s interest to launch a case in the High Court if it could be dealt with more efficiently in the County Court.