Any claim brought in the County Court is allocated to one of three tracks; the small claims track, the fast track or the multi-track.
The small claims track is the normal track for any claim which has a financial value of not more than £5,000. However, if the issues to be determined at a hearing are complex (i.e. may require more than ½ a day of court time to be resolved) the claim may be allocated to either the fast-track or the multi-track.
Fast-track claims are normally between £5,000 and £25,000 in value whereas multi-track claims are normally valued at in excess of £25,000.
The general rule in both County Court and High Court litigation is that the loser pays the winner's costs. However, costs orders are only made "after the event" (i.e. once any decision has been made) and the Court has a wide discretion when making costs orders. Typically, unless there are extraordinary circumstances, in the region of 70% to 80% of costs incurred will be recoverable from an successful opponent upon assessment by the Court.
In some circumstances we are able to offer our clients no-win, no-fee type Conditional Fee Arrangements. We would be happy to discuss this with you should this be applicable to your particular case.
Typically Conditional Fee Arrangements are backed-up by an "after the event" insurance product for which a premium is usually payable.
Unfortunately, while recent years have noted significant improvements, claims can still take some time to reach Court.
The actual length of time a dispute takes to reach Court can vary and will depend upon the issues which need to be determined, the track to which the claim is allocated (see above) and whether expert evidence is required to assist the Court. However, in each case we will seek to resolve your dispute at the earliest possible opportunity and at least possible cost to you, and it may be that alternative dispute resolution methods will mean that your case does not have to go to Court in order to be resolved.
It is becoming increasingly common for commercial (and other) disputes to be resolved without the need for court intervention and by a form of alternative dispute resolution. Forms of alternative dispute resolution include Arbitration, Adjudication and Mediation and we will advise you of the suitability of one or more of the same at various stages as your case progresses.
In common with other departments in the firm, we will always provide you with a fee earner's direct telephone line. Under our Client Charter we are also committed to returning your telephone calls on the same day or if not possible within twenty four hours. All our partners are available by mobile telephone.