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Civil Litigation - What is the Small Track?

Written by Riyaz Jariwalla on 10 June 2008

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The small claims track is a moderate measure, a process that takes place in the county court for dealing with cases in which one or more parties have been unable to resolve their disputes by other measures.

Small claims tracks are to be used as a last resort when all other methods of resolution have failed to provide a solution to a dispute between parties. If a claimant is seeking compensation, particularly in terms of money up to £5,000, then the small claims track may provide them with the resolution they have failed to obtain otherwise.

The small claims track is for claimants that are seeking awards that are equal to no more than £5,000 or if they are seeking awards that are no more than £1,000 for disputes pertaining to repairs that arise between landlord and tenant. Further, the small claims track may also embrace cases in which no monetary award is sought, but the enforced action of another individual is requested. This does not mean that those individuals seeking more than £5,000 have no recourse in small claims court. In fact, there are three tracks that small claims cases follow and if claimants are seeking more than £5,000 in monetary awards, they may find resolution using the fast track or multi track: tracks that allow up to £15,000 and beyond £15,000 in monetary awards respectively. Finally, if a claimant seeks more than £5,000 and they pursue their case using the small track, they will not be able to divide the claim into two separate cases so that they can claim the amount that is in excess of £5,000.

A claim processed under the small claims track is a singular case and if one seeks more than the amount permitted by law for a particular track, they must utilise the track that will allow them to claim the award they seek, or they must be willing to settle for the maximum amount that the small claims track will allow.

Various cases can be processed in small claims court. For claimants looking to resolve issues that arise during the process of debt collection or issues between landlord and tenant, the small claims track can prove ideal. Further, the small claims track can allow claimants to solve intellectual property disputes, debt collection, personal injury issues, or issues relating to a breach of contract.

To file a claim, claimants will be required to file a form referred to at N1 and to pay a filing fee based on the monetary award the claimant seeks. Once the claimant has successfully filed the N1 form, they will get a form referred to as the N205A. This is a form that provides the case number.

The defendant will then be served with a notification of the claim and the defendant will be required to fill out a response form provided by the court. Once the defendant is provided with a summons making them aware of the claim, they have 14 days to reply to the summons. Finally, upon the defendant’s failure to reply, the claimant may receive a judgment in their favour based on a default ruling.

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