What Is ‘Track Allocation’ In Civil Litigation And What Will Happen To My Case When It Is Allocated to A ‘Track’? - Jonathan Lea Network

What Is ‘Track Allocation’ In Civil Litigation And What Will Happen To My Case When It Is Allocated to A ‘Track’?

There are currently four tracks in the civil litigation process, and these are as follows:

  • Small Claims Track;
  • Fast Track;
  • Intermediate Track; and
  • Multi Track.

When you apply to the court to make a claim in civil litigation, once the court receives the other side’s defence, the case will be allocated to a particular track, depending on various issues such as the claim’s value and complexity.

The table below demonstrates how the court will deal with track allocation for different cases:

Small Claims Track Most claims under £10,000 will be allocated to this track unless they are for personal injury or housing disrepair. A District Judge (DJ) will often hear claims on the small claims track (unless such claims are for personal injury or housing disrepair). Usually, the winning party cannot recoup their legal costs from the losing party beyond a fixed, minimal sum if the claim is allocated to this track. The judge will tend to use an interventionist approach to resolve the issues at hand and try to persuade the parties to mediate or reach a final decision to resolve the matter.
Fast Track Claims between a value of £10,000 and £25,000 will often be allocated to this track, as long as the claim is not particularly ‘complex’. There will usually be a case management conference (CMC) in which the court will give directions for the management of the case and will produce a timetable for the steps to be taken between giving directions and the trial date (the trial taking place no more than 30 weeks from the CMC). The Fast Track process seeks to simplify the case for the court and expert evidence is often limited to only one expert witness, and if the parties cannot agree on an expert, the court can appoint one on the parties’ behalf. The expert will provide their evidence in writing. The costs of the litigation in the Fast Track usually follow the event (i.e., costs are generally awarded to the winner). Bear in mind that ultimately, costs are awarded at the discretion of the judge and may be significantly reduced (or worse, not given at all) if you have not attempted alternative dispute resolution such as mediation, negotiation or arbitration. Please note that some changes were made to the Fast Track on 1st October 2023, following the implementation of The Civil Procedure (Amendment No.2) Rules 2023. The Fixed Recoverable Costs Regime (FRC) has been extended to all civil claims across the fast track (with limited exceptions) and this includes a new process and separate table of costs for Noise Induced Hearing Loss claims valued up to £25,000. Claims will also be assigned to one of four complexity bands, which will provide for an ascending scale of fixed costs increasing as complexity does.*
Intermediate Track This is a brand new ‘track’ and came into force on 1st October 2023, following the implementation of The Civil Procedure (Amendment No.2) Rules 2023. This track will deal with less complex claims valued at more than £25,000, but not more than £100,000. Fixed recoverable costs will also apply to this track. The claim will be assigned to one of four ‘complexity bands’, which will provide an ascending scale of fixed costs increasing in line with complexity.* We have a detailed article on the new Intermediate Track, here.
Multi Track Claims for over £25,000, or for lesser sums of money where the case involves complex points of law and/or evidence will be allocated to this ‘track’. This track is designed to be very flexible and a number of case management approaches can be used, completely at the discretion of the judge. Such approaches may include pre-trial reviews (PTRs) and CMCs. Once the case is in the court’s system, it must actively manage the progression of the matter to trial. The parties must ensure that they file suitable costs budgets and the court has discretion to apply a ‘cap’ to either party’s budget. The court will actively manage the process using ‘directions’, which are basically specific steps a party must comply with by specific dates. Early identification of the issues between the parties (as well as establishing common ground) will be imperative and dealing with the issues early will reduce the amount of issues which will need to be argued at the final hearing. The court strictly controls expert evidence on this track, including the number of expert witnesses allowed. The court’s permission is required to use an expert witness to give evidence. All time limits are also very strictly controlled by the court and if directions are not complied with, it can come back to bite a party in relation to costs, or, worse, it could strike out a claim or defence. Specific directions may be changed by agreement between the parties or the court itself, albeit the court will be very unlikely to agree to an adjournment without a compelling reason.

Can the claim be reallocated to a different track?

If you consider that your case has been allocated to an incorrect track, you can ask the court to change the track. You can do this by making an application to the court to request a change of track. Please note that it is solely at the discretion of the court to reallocate a claim to a different track. If the court does decide to reallocate, then all parties must be notified of the change.

*Please note that, in relation to these complexity bands, there will be four for each track (i.e., four for the Fast Track and four for the Intermediate Track).

How we can help

We will be able to advise you as to which track the court has allocated your claim to once the defence has been filed and served by the defendant, and once the court has informed us of the allocation of the claim to a suitable track. The court usually does this by sending out a notice of proposed allocation in accordance with rule 26.4 of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).

This article is intended for general information only, applies to the law at the time of publication, is not specific to the facts of your case and is not intended to be a replacement for legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before relying on any of the information given. © Jonathan Lea Limited 2023.


About George Harrison

George is a full-time trainee solicitor at the Jonathan Lea Network. George recently finished his Master’s of Law (LL.M) at King’s College London, where he specialised in banking law.

The Jonathan Lea Network is an SRA regulated firm that employs solicitors, trainees and paralegals who work from a modern office in Haywards Heath. This close-knit retain team is enhanced by a trusted network of specialist self-employed solicitors who, where relevant, combine seamlessly with the central team.

If you'd like a competitive quote for any legal work please first send an email to wewillhelp@jonathanlea.net with an introduction and an overview of the issues you'd like to discuss, following which someone will liaise to fix a mutually convenient time for a no cost no obligation initial call with one of our fee earners.

Get In Touch

Contact Us

In need of legal advice? We would love to hear from you!