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Unformatted text preview: Overview A new set of rules governing the processing of civil cases in England & Wales came into force on the 26th April 1999. These changes come as a result of the Woolf report 'Access to Justice' (1996). The main aim of the new procedures is to reduce the cost and time of taking legal action. Under the new system, the courts will take on the management of each case. In the past, this was left to the parties. This actually has relatively little effect on the 'small claims' track, as the courts tended to manage these under the old system Jurisdiction The new court procedures apply only in England and Wales. Small claims track, fast track and multi-track Under the rules, cases are run on one of three tracks. The three tracks are: 'small claims track' (not exceeding 5000 pounds) 'fast track' (over 5000 pounds, not exceeding 25,000 pounds) 'multi-track' (over 25,000 pounds) '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. Tracks (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. Pre-action protocols 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: for Construction and Engineering Disputes for Defamation for Personal Injury Claims for the Resolution of Clinical Disputes for Professional Negligence for Judicial Review for Disease and Illness Claims for Housing Disrepair Cases Starting a Claim Before starting a claim it is normal to write to the debtor one last time. Most businesses will make this letter the last part of their normal credit control process....
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- Spring '99