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. It also sets out the general rules for 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 tracks to which any claim matter can be allocated include the Small Claims Track, the Fast Track, the Intermediate Track and the Multi-Track. CPR 26.9 sets out the normal scope of matters relevant to allocation 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 26.10 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.


The Intermediate Track


The intermediate track was introduced on 1st October 2023. Cases allocated to the intermediate track will be those which are not suitable for the fast track or the small claims track, which are valued below £100,000. Cases allocated to this track should have trials lasting no more than three days and expert evidence should be limited to two experts per party.

The Court may allocate a claim that includes a claim for non-monetary relief, to the intermediate track if it considers that doing so would be in the interest of justice.


Multi Track Claims


CPR 26.9(10) defines the parameters of the Multi Track. It includes cases that do not qualify for the small claims track, fast track, or intermediate track. As such, fixed recoverable costs do not apply.

The Multi Track will handle cases involving:

(a) mesothelioma or asbestos lung disease claims;

(b) medical negligence cases, unless:

(i) the case would typically be set for the intermediate track, and

(ii) both the breach of duty and causation aren’t contested;

(c) cases regarding abuse or harm towards or by children or vulnerable adults;

(d) any claim where the court may decide on a jury trial if it believes an issue pertains to section 66(3) of the County Courts Act 1984(3) or section 69(1) of the Senior Courts Act 1981(4);

(e) Cases accusing the police of intentional or reckless wrongdoings, or violations of the Human Rights Act.

Recoverable costs in Multi Track cases are typically on an hourly rate. Given the potential for costs budgeting in these high-stakes cases, it’s essential to engage a, experienced costs professional for guidance.

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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