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Outrageous decision by County Court - help!


rdobbie
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Here's a strange one... wondering if anyone can advise.

 

A while back I issued a claim via Moneyclaim Online against a company for an amount less than £1000.

 

A defence was entered and the case was transferred to my local court. Both parties agreed on the Allocation Questionnaires that no expert witnesses would be needed, and that Small Claims track was suitable.

 

I'm no lawyer but I do believe the claim was an extremely simple one and would have taken no more than 30 minutes of the court's time.

 

So far, so good.

 

Then the judge in my local county court allocated the case to the Fast Track and didn't state any reasons for this.

 

I assumed this was some kind of clerical error so I immediately wrote to the court asking them to confirm it was the Fast Track, and if so, why? I also asked them how I could appeal against this decision, since:

 

A. The claim was for less than £1000 (I thought Fast Track was for claims over £5000)

B. Both parties asked for it to be dealt with via Small Claims Track

 

The court wrote back with a very arrogant and abrupt letter, basically saying it was entirely at the judge's discretion, the judge didn't have to explain his decision, and there was no form of appeal!

 

Now I am being asked for a £275 trial fee to progress the claim (on top of the original £80), and I understand I get clobbered even further for costs etc if I lose in the Fast Track.

 

I am absolutely gobsmacked. Surely this can't be right, can it? Even the defendant (a large company with an experienced legal dept) has contacted me to say they are bewildered by the judge's decision.

 

Can anyone in the legal profession please tell me if there is any form of appeal against this ludicrous decision? I've scoured the court service website but can't find anything.

 

I would never in a million years have started this claim if I'd known it would be Fast Tracked without me having any say in the matter! That's not to say I'm not confident of winning - it's just that I haven't got £275 sitting in the bank for this trial fee because I'm skint.

 

Maybe I'm being paranoid but I can't help feeling this is connected with me having made complaints in the past about gross incompetence on the part of this particular county court (like the time I won a claim but they registered the CCJ against me instead of the defendant, and it took 6 months to clear my name)

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It is at the judges discretion.

 

The monetary guidelines are usually adhered to but it does depend on how complicated they believe the case is.

 

Would I be right in thinking this is a personal injury claim?

Opinions given herein are made informally by myself as a lay-person in good faith based on personal experience. For legal advice you must always consult a registered and insured lawyer.

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Practice Direction 26.11.1(1) states 'Where a party is dissatisfied with an order made allocating the claim to a track he may appeal or apply to the court to re-allocate the claim'.

 

Practice 26.11.1(3) states that an application should be made to reallocate if the track allocation was not made at a hearing, this appears to be the case here. It might add weight to the application if both parties apply simultaneously.

 

It's entirely possible that the person from the court who wrote back wasn't aware of 26PD11.1, so I'd write back specifically quoting the practice direction and giving reasons for the application. There's no guarantee that you'll get a result but it is certainly worth pursuing.

 

Bear in mind though that I don't know the full facts of the case so fast track might have been the right decision based on the judge's experience of similar claims.

If in doubt read the

FAQs

 

If still in doubt - ask!

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No, it's just a straightforward breach of contract. The defendant has even admitted the breach but there is a disagreement between the two parties about the exact value of what is owed to me, hence my claim.

 

I am claiming for the actual loss I have suffered, but the defendant wants it calculated at what it would cost them at the commercial rate (i.e. substantially lower).

 

I can state my case in about 3 minutes, and I'm sure the defendant can state theirs in a similar time, and then the judge just has to decide one way or the other. There is no evidence, no witnesses, just a straightforward question of law for the judge.

 

I'm baffled as to why that requires Fast Track (and it's been allocated a full day - I forgot to mention that).

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