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Which civil court?

This content applies to England & Wales

How cases are allocated to particular 'tracks', usually depending on their value.

Most cases are started in the county court. Money cases claiming less than £100,000 (or £50,000 in personal injury cases) have to be started in the county court. Some cases have to be brought in the county court, for example most residential possession cases. Certain other cases, for example judicial review, have to be brought in the High Court, which is also used for cases of particularly high value. In certain circumstances, cases can be transferred between the county court and the High Court.[1]

Under the Civil Procedure Rules, cases commenced in the county court are allocated to a particular 'track' on the basis of their value and complexity.

The 'small claims track' can deal with claims up to £10,000, but there are exceptions to this. Personal injury claims worth more than £1,000 cannot be allocated to the small claims track. Neither can disrepair claims involving a claim for works to be carried out where either the cost of the works or the value of the damages is more than £1,000. Claims for injunctions or damages for harassment or unlawful eviction can never be allocated to the small claims track.[2] Possession claims will rarely be allocated to the small claims track and then only if all parties agree.

Cases with a value between £10,000 and £25,000 will generally be allocated to the 'fast track'.[3]

More complex claims with a value over £25,000 will usually be allocated to the 'multi-track'. If the trial is likely to last more than a day the case will probably be allocated to the multi-track even if the value is less than £25,000.[4]

Fast track cases follow a standard procedure with a trial window fixed at the date of allocation. The time between directions and the start of the trial is meant to be no more than 30 weeks.

Multi-track cases follow a more tailor-made procedure, which allows the court to use a variety of case management tools depending on a particular claim, and may take longer to come to court.[5]

See the section on Preparing for court for more information about how cases are managed and allocation to a particular track.

[1] ss. 40-42 County Courts Act 1984; see also Civil Procedure Rules, Part 30. 

[2] Civil Procedure Rules, Parts 26.6(1)-(3) and 27

[3] Civil Procedure Rules, Parts 26.6(4)-(5) and 28.

[4] Civil Procedure Rules, Parts 26.6(6) and 29.

[5] Civil Procedure Rules, Part 29.

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