Well done on completing the work, tasks and videos on the Oakes Future page. This really shows your commitment to the course and we are excited to be working with you more in September. This next page will be updated with different tasks to help develop your skills further. It gives you the opportunity to delve into content from the course and get you ready to start in the new term. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions but use this page to strengthen your knowledge and interest in Law.
A-level Law: The three-track system in the county court
Part of the A-level Law course is to consider how the Legal system works, including what happens when you want to make a claim against someone. The following fact sheet and activities take you through this process, including practicing making your own claim!
Following a full investigation into the criticisms facing the civil courts, Lord Woolf in his 1996 Report on Access to Justice recommended three key changes:
Simplify the current language in the civil justice system to allow the public a greater understanding of the procedure in the civil courts;
The introduction of the ‘three-track-system’ in the county courts to quickly allocate a civil case depending on the value of the claim and to set specific criteria to each track’s procedures;
To encourage alternatives to the courts to reduce the cost of litigation to the parties of any action.
One of the changes was to encourage DIY claims. For example, when a claimant wishes to start an action they complete a N1 claim form outlining the details of the claim. If the case proceeds to court, the case is allocated to one of three courts (or ‘tracks’) in the County Court so it is to be heard expeditiously and fairly.
The Small Claims Court: This track involves claims of under £10,000 and personal injury cases of under £1000. Claimants are encouraged to represent themselves in order to keep the overall costs of the case down. The ‘winner’ cannot recover the cost of their solicitor, if using one, from the losing party. The case is likely heard by a District Judge.
It was introduced as an informal and quick court to deal with minor civil cases. Cases are most often heard in an informal setting with all parties and the judge asking inquisitorial questions and asking the parties to present their case themselves to get to the truth. There are no strict rules of evidence, no cross-examination since there is not an adversarial nature to the hearing as there would be in a criminal case. The use of lawyers is not encouraged and expert witnesses are generally discouraged or not allowed.
The Fast Track: This track involves claims of no more than £25,000. The track establishes a strict timetable for pre-trial matters to ensure there is no time wasting and the aim is for the claim to be heard within 30 weeks of being received by the court. The case is likely heard by a Circuit Judge.
The idea is that this track is a ‘fast’ means of dealing with higher-value claims in a more formal setting and held in open court. Lawyers are allowed and generally only a single expert witness, ‘loyal to the court’, is allowed. The judge is directed by Civil Procedure Rules to case manage each claim, so that the strict guidelines established by and after Lord Woolf’s recommendations are adhered to. This is an attempt to reduce historic time-wasting by counsel and the subsequent running up of costs.
The Multi-Track: This involves claims of more than £25,000. Since it involves the most money it will be likely to be heard by a more senior judge – either a Circuit Judge or a High Court judge.
It is, therefore, clearly the most formal of the tracks and its procedure insists that the judge has a ‘hands-on’ approach to its case management. Timetables, gathering of evidence, control of expert witnesses are all in the hands of the judge to manage. The use of alternative dispute resolution is encouraged by the judge where possible. Trial dates are set and strictly enforced with generally a 72-week maximum from allocation to trial permitted.
Define the following words or phrases in the context of the information:
A car was parked at the top of a hill. The driver got out of the car but forgot to put the handbrake on. The car starts rolling down the hill and crashes into a house, causing damage to the front wall and windows.
Using the following details and this guide, have a go at completing an N1 claim form on behalf of the house owner.
Date: Friday 13thJanuary 2020
Claimant: Deardrie Dove
Defendant: Gary Grantos
Damage: £10,000 to repair the wall and windows. £7,000 to replace the damaged furniture. £500 to fix the garden wall.
County Court: Cambridge County Court and Family Court
Court fee: 5% of the claim
Legal Representatives Costs: none