Are you an unpaid seller/supplier or dissatisfied buyer/customer in an IT or other commercial contract dispute? The amount of money at stake may not reflect the complexity of the claim but may, nonetheless, be vital to the profitability of your business.

The need for affordable legal advice that does not compromise on quality has never been greater.

The majority of defended actions follow an easily identifiable path, with the court giving standard directions. As such, it is possible to break up the litigation into a series of steps (otherwise known as ‘unbundling’); some of which benefit from legal expertise more than others.

Direct access to a barrister provides a perfect solution to any anxiety associated with acting as a litigant in person. Barrister KnowHow can provide help when it is needed on a fixed fee basis.

This may be, depending on the particular circumstances of the case, in the form of:

  • Advice on the prospects of success and the best way of moving forward
  • Drafting court documents
  • Representation at the final hearing

What is the value of your claim? Interest, costs and any amount not in dispute are not included in the assessment.

£10,000 or less*
Small Claims Track

Most claims where the value of the case is £10,000 or less will be allocated to the small claims track.

The amount of costs recoverable in small claims track cases is severely limited with each party bearing the majority of their own costs. As a result, there is a powerful disincentive for employing lawyers – the whole idea being so; sometimes meaning that the claim is not pursued or defended at all.

The procedure to be followed for cases allocated to the small claims track is designed to be litigant in person friendly. Many of the complex procedural rules applying to other cases do not apply.

However, small claims cases may nonetheless involve legal issues of some complexity.

Between £10,000 & £25,000*
Fast Track

Most claims where the value of the case is between £10,000 and £25,000 and the trial will take one day or less will be allocated to the fast track.

These are cases that necessitate some further degree of pre-hearing directions/preparation.

Nonetheless, such a case is expected to proceed to trial from directions on allocation within 30 weeks. It is in a litigant’s interests to frontload preparation for the hearing. This may, of course, also help lead to settlement.

Costs need to be necessary and proportionate to the remedy sought.

The amount of fast track trial costs which the court may award is fixed by reference to the value of the claim.

Costs on the fast track (other than trial costs which are fixed) are normally dealt with summarily at the end of the trial having regard to the statements of costs submitted prior to the trial.

The costs of using a direct access barrister are, in principle, recoverable as disbursements.

 

If the case turns on expert evidence, it may well be allocated to the multi-track. IT disputes may well fall into this category.

*The value of the claim is not the only consideration. Factors such as the complexity of the case, the remedy sought and the nature and extent of the evidence required may mean that the court allocates the claim to a different track.

Naturally, track allocation and recoverability of costs is likely to influence how much expert legal help you feel is appropriate.

That said, you may feel that in a case allocated to the small claims track, simply having an opinion on the prospects of success and some guidance on how to proceed is sufficient to give you the confidence to take things forward yourself. In a Fast Track case, perhaps you feel more confident being represented at the final hearing.

Whilst the information above relates to the small claims track and fast track, I am more than happy to assist in any case allocated to the multi-track.

Please do not hesitate to contact Dominic Bevis at Barrister KnowHow for more information.