From 1 April 2013 there has been a shake up to the legal system and a number of changes have been made to the Small Claims Track and the disclosure requirements for Multi-Track cases.
Small Claims Track
The upper limit of the Small Claims Track increases from £5,000 to £10,000. Thus, any disputed debts that you need collecting under £10,000 will now be dealt with on the Small Claims Track, with consequences for recoverable costs (i.e. only Court fees and very low fixed costs) and directions.
The costs aspect is a concern; as £10,000 is a lot of money. Invariably, the higher the debt the more complex the matter and this means that you may be expending significant costs and recovering very little.
Therefore, it will be important to make an early, informed decision about those matters which you choose to litigate to trial, those which you choose to settle quickly (although often for much less than the principal debt) and those that you choose not to litigate at all.
Allocation Questionnaires replaced
From 1 April 2013, Direction Questionnaires replace Allocation Questionnaires. It is already mandatory to file the Allocation Questionnaire but from 1 April 2013, the consequence of failing to file on time can be that your claim is struck out without warning and/or a Judgement entered against you in the event that there is a counterclaim.
It is clearly imperative that your solicitor is instructed with all due speed after a Defence and/or Counterclaim is lodged.
Costs Information and Disclosure – Multi-Track Cases
There is now a mandatory requirement for all solicitors to put together a budget of the costs to be incurred throughout the matter for Multi-Track Cases valued over £25,000, either at the time of filing the Directions Questionnaire or before the first Case Management Conference. This is known as Precedent H and details can be found on www.justice.gov.uk.
At the same time solicitors must also file a disclosure report, identifying the likely documents to be disclosed, where they are found and estimates of costs for dealing with standard disclosure. The Court now has a broad range of options in respect of directions for disclosure.
Whilst this is now a slightly more onerous process, having all the documents relevant to your case (whether for or against you) at an early stage will be hugely beneficial and will save costs. This has, of course, always been the case but The Court is taking a much more hands-on approach now.
If you are concerned about how any of the above affects you, or would like to find out how T G Baynes could help you, please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 301 7777.