CPR 26: Legal Costs and Track Allocation

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Part 26.1 of the Civil Procedure Rules caters for the circumstances in which defended cases may be sent from one County Court hearing Centre or Court Office to another, the allocation of defended cases to case management tracks, and also deals with issues surrounding the automatic transfer of some defended cases in the High Court.

The three tracks to which any matter can be allocated include the Small Claims Track, the Fast Track and the Multi-Track. CPR 26.6 sets out the normal scope for each track, which we explain in brief below: 

 

CPR 26: Small-Claims Track 

The Small-Claims Track presides over lower value and less complicated claims with a value of up to £10,000, and claims for damages for personal injuries arising from a road traffic accident which do not exceed £5,000 with the exception of any circumstances provided for in rule 26.6A of the Civil Procedure Rules.

It is uncommon for cases involving possession to be allocated to the Small Claims Track if the Fast-Track costs regime applies. Housing disrepair cases may be added to the Small Claims track in certain circumstances. This is usually in cases where the cost of works, and the value of any damage claimed is below £1,000.

In cases that are allocated to the Small Claims Track, each side will be responsible for bearing most of their legal costs since the Small Claims-Track enables people to litigate in person as opposed to using a Solicitor or legal representative (for the avoidance of doubt, legal representation can still be obtained but the costs will unlikely to be recoverable in the event of success). Costs orders are only permitted in this track to the extent of the fixed costs that are involved in issuing the claim, travel costs of the party or witnesses attending, loss of earnings, expert and Court fees. If a party behaves unreasonably the Court may make an order that the misbehaving party pay the other side’s costs. Costs will be assessed at the hearing against the party who is considered to have behaved unreasonably. 

The Court of Appeal held that it may be appropriate, especially in housing disrepair cases, to award pre-allocation costs for legal advice in cases where the landlord has not fulfilled their obligations to repair a defect or premises before a claim, but takes specific measures to rectify the issue before the case is allocated to a track. 

 

CPR 26: Fast Track Claims

The Fast Track deals with claims with a value of between £10,000 and £25,000 provided that the final hearing is not likely to last for longer than one day, and for all claims involving personal injury in excess of £1,000 (normally up to £25,000), save for RTA cases which must be valued in excess of £5,000. The Fast Track enables relatively straightforward matters to be dealt with within the one-day Trial limit. Solicitors can only claim fixed amounts in relation to preparing for and appearing at the Trial in a Fast-Track case and they are dependant on the value of the claim.  Costs are currently fixed under RTA/EL/PL cases.  Therefore it is unlikely that a successful party will recover its full costs from its opponent. The successful party will be responsible for the remainder of its legal representative’s fees in spite of an order for costs having been made by the Court against the unsuccessful party.

It should be noted that whilst currently fixed costs only apply to RTA/EL/PL claims, proposed reforms are currently in progress to expand the Fast Track to cover all damages claims up to £100,000 in value, with fixed costs to be extended to cover all such matters.

 

Multi Track Claims

The Multi-Track currently concerns more complicated claims, typically with a value of in excess of £25,000 or in which the time allocated for a Trial is to be in excess of one day (this could for instance apply to lower value cases with large numbers of witnesses/expert evidence, or complex issues such as allegations of fraud). Multi-Track cases are heard in the County Court or High Court and cost limits that apply to the Small Claims and Fast Track cases do not apply to those in the Multi-Track.  As a consequence, a paying party must pay those costs incurred on an hourly rate that are proportionate and reasonable. In Multi-Track cases the successful party will also not likely recover the full amount of its costs as the unsuccessful party will often challenge the amount of the successful party’s costs in detail however, a larger degree of recoverability of fees is possible than in fixed costs Fast Track/Small Claims Track disputes. The successful party will also remain liable for the outstanding fees of the legal representative. Notably, costs in all tracks will be affected by costs management and settlement offers made during proceedings. 

 

How can ARC Costs Assist?

The allocation of your case will significantly impact upon the recoverability of your costs and disbursements.

If you require assistance on any type of claim allocated to any track, we can assist. ARC Costs are a team of highly experienced Costs Lawyers and Costs Draftsman who regularly assist with a wide range of legal costs disputes.  As independent experts, we can act for either receiving or paying parties, in order to maximise or minimise the amount of legal costs recoverable.

For receiving parties, we regularly assist with the preparation of your Costs Budget or Bill of Costs, conducting negotiations and detailed assessment proceedings. For paying parties, we narrow the legal areas in dispute, preparing Points of Dispute / Points of Reply, and seek to minimise your costs exposure at proportionate fees. 

For further information or to discuss your query, call one of the team or 01204 397302, or please email one our experts at info@arccosts.co.uk. Alternatively, you can contact us via submission of our contact form, and one of the team will give you a call back to provide free initial advice. 

ARC Costs are registered in England and Wales. Our Costs Lawyers are authorised and regulated by the Costs Lawyers Standards Board, and we maintain indemnity insurance to deal with costs claims up to multi-million pounds disputes.

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