The Difference Between Small Claims and Fast Track/Multi Track
When you have issued a claim and the defendant defends your debt, you can either settle the matter or go to a hearing for the Court to resolve the dispute. Before reaching a hearing at the Court, each case has to be allotted to a “track”. A track represents a process your case has to go through before you get to a hearing.
There are three types of tracks – small claims, fast track, and multi-track. If you are wondering what track your case will be allocated to, here are the differences listed below.
If you have a case where the debt is below £10,000 in England and Wales, it will most likely belong to a small claims track. These types of claims are usually much simpler to deal with, and reaching a hearing is usually within the first 6 months. Courts can attempt to settle the debt by mediation, often done over the phone. This service is free of charge. If that doesn’t work and the debt is still not settled, the next step is the hearing. A mutual exchange of the witness statements with the supporting evidence should occur at least 2 weeks before the hearing. The hearing usually lasts half a day. When it comes to small claims track, no costs are awarded to the successful party except the court fees.
Fast Track / Multi Track
Fast Track is reserved for claims between £10,000-£25,000. The hearing can only last for 1 day, and usually, it takes up to a year to reach it. Multi Track is for claims that surpass £25,000. Usually, more than 1 day is allowed for a hearing, but depending on the complexity of the whole case, it can take anywhere between 1 and 2 years to reach a hearing.
The Courts generally encourage mediation, but opposed to the small claims track, here both parties share the costs and they mutually settle for a venue and a mediator. Sometimes the Courts can suspend the proceedings for a month or two in order to allow the parties to reach the settlement. If there is no settling, there are several steps both parties have to take before the hearing occurs. First, both sides should submit a document where they provide anticipated costs. When these costs are agreed upon, usually both sides are limited to these values.
Also, both parties should disclose all case-related documents, witness statements and expert reports before the hearing. A pre-trial checklist that confirms compliance should be delivered to the Court. A Case Management Conference may take place so that the compliance and readiness for the trial are confirmed.
Only after all these steps are taken a hearing can take place. After the hearing, a successful party gets the costs; however, that’s usually an average of ⅔ of their costs. After the successful trial, the party that lost will get a court order to pay the owed amount, and if they still refuse to pay, you can take further steps to enforce the Judgment and collect the amounts due to you. So, let’s recap the differences:
- Debt below £10,000 in England and Wales
- Hearing within 6 months
- Free mediation attempt over phone
- Hearing lasts half a day
- No costs awarded to the successful party except the court fees
Fast Track / Multi Track
- Debt between £10,000 – £25,000 for fast track, over £25,000 for multi-track
- Hearing lasts 1 day for Fast Track but can be more than 1 day for Multi Track cases
- Takes up to a year to reach the hearing
- Mediation costs are shared by both parties
- Possible Case Management
- Successful party is awarded with costs, usually ⅔ on the average
- Anticipated costs
- Witness statements
- Expert reports approved by the Court
- Pre-trial compliancy checklist
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