This is our guide to the english/welsh court procedures also known as the Civil Procedures Rules.
This guide is intended for people/businesses making a claim for monies owed. As such this guide deals mainly with claims for debt and taken through the 'small claims' process. However, most of the procedures outlined are the same for larger debts or for other kinds of claims.
The same procedures also apply when a claim is being made for damages. So this guide might also be useful to an individual wishing to claim damages.
The guide starts with an overview and an introduction to the courts and court procedures. The guide is laid out in, roughly, the same order that a claim would be processed.
It begins by looking at what should be done before starting a claim. It then works through the process step-by-step up to winning judgment. After judgment there are further sections dealing with the different enforcement options.
This guide tries to cover all the various possible options. This means there is quite a lot of it. In practice, using the court procedures is easier than trying to describe them.
DISCLAIMER: These notes are provided without any kind of guarantee. Use them entirely at your own risk. We have tried to make them as clear as possible and also as accurate as we can but can offer no guarantee that they are correct.
The current procedures have been in place since April 1999.
The current system sets out a single set of rules (known as the civil procedures rules). These rules apply to civil cases made in a county court or in the High Court.
These rules are not very different from the rules that applied to 'small claims' before 1999. In general, the old rules for small claims have been extened to cover all kinds of civil claims.
The new court procedures apply only in England and Wales.
Scotland has a separate legal system and separate arrangements exist for Northern Ireland. Information about the scottish system can be found at http://www.scotscourts.gov.uk and for Northern Ireland at http://www.courtsni.gov.uk.
The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are also not covered by these rules.
Under the rules, cases are run on one of three tracks. The three tracks are:
'Small claims' and 'fast track' claims are managed by the county courts. 'Multi-track' cases are more often made in the High Court.
As is typical with the legal system, even a simple rule like this has exceptions.
The monetary values that determine which track a case is allocated to are different for some kinds of claims.
The limits may be different in the case of personal injury claims. Though it depends on how much of the claim is defined as being for damages (CPR 26.6.1.a).
The lower limit for claims for housing repairs is 1,000 pounds rather than 5,000 pounds. So claims above 1,000 pounds are allocated to the 'fast track'.
In addition some specific pieces of legislation require action to be started in the High Court regardless of the amount involved.
It is also possible, if the parties and the court agree, for a case to be allocated to a different track. For example, a simple claim for more than 5,000 pounds can still be dealt with on the 'small claims' track if all parties agree.
The rules include provisions for 'pre-action protocols'.
These protocols lay down guidance for the parties on action to be taken by the parties for particular kinds of claim. The protocol deals with attempts to settle the dispute and disclosure of documents.
Pre-action protocols exist to cover the following kinds of disputes:
The current pre-action protocols may be viewed on the Ministry of Justice web-site.