October 16th – Tort Law
Allocation Questionnaire – this is typically submitted after the claim form and the statements of case by both parties. In which they give their position about a number of facts of the case e.g. what they think the main issues are, how much money is involved, how long it will take to try, how many witness they'll need to call, whether they'll need to call on expert evidence, if so how many experts will need to testify and how many joint experts etc. From this the court will decide to allocate the case onto one of three tracks:
Small claims courts –
less than £5,000 (and usually with tort it is considerably less than £5,000) In general they don't need expert trials and can be dealt with quickly and easily. This types of cases are tried by district judges and are rarely allowed up to appeal due to the small amount of money so in a sense, the judge's judgement is final. You don't actually need a lawyer – people should be able to come into court and sort it out with out legalities, and in some ways are actually discouraged from hiring a lawyer – If a case is such that a lawyer is required it is usually moved up.
Fast track –
meant to be a set of simplified but none the less complicated system – for claims of between £5,000 - £25,000, and where the issues are such that the case can be tried in a day with no more than one or two experts on each side, the presumption that there will be one expert, and that the experts won't even testify. Oral examination of experts would suggest that the case moves up to the next track. There is normally a set timetable for a case. The idea is that the trial should be completed within a year of the questionnaire being filed. They have limited and fairly standardised cost assessment. The normal practice is that at the end of the trial the judge decides on the amount paid there and then that day, and they're usually pretty standard amounts.
for more complicated cases and over £25,000, where there is more experts and/or the law is more complicated. Multi-track cases will commonly be heard in the high court. They will typically have specifically tailored directions – orders from the judge saying how the case will proceed, and will typically involve one or more pre-trial hearings, so the judge can try and set the case up for trial to comply with the over-riding objective. These are complicated cases and need hands on action from the judge to try and ensure that the case runs efficiently. The courts may trial to resolve some issues pre-trial by getting rid of some smaller, auxiliary issues to try and get to the main case– they may strike out claims or defences if there is no reasonable basis for making them claims or defences that have no basis for making in law, or granting summary judgement- can be used for cases where the claimant won't be entitled to recover. This is to cover claims and defences that fail as a matter of law (insufficient claims or defences). Sanctions - If someone has violated the rules in the way they have handled the case they can strike out their claim or one or more of their defences, or they may move for a cost sanction – they will let the case proceed but they may either lose their interest, or have to pay for the costs to the other side. It's only in an extreme case that a court would throw the case out completely
telling the other side that these are the documents you are going to use in the case, and give them full disclosure, and you are also required to disclose documents that may harm your case, particularly important for claimants.
they occur all the time in civil cases, 99% settle cases before trial, most before law suits are even filed. A major incentive for this is the part 36 offers are when one side offers to settle the case plus costs to date, if you accept this within 21 days (required), if the claimant turns it down and the courts goes to trial, and recover less than they sued for, the defendant would recover their costs from the part 36 offer. The claimant can also make this offer, if they recover more than this, the defendant will have to pay extra costs (additional interest or indemnity costs) must is be £50,000?
Civil trials work differently than criminal trials, typically they are trial by judges not juries, the ones that do are usually defamation. Typically witnesses don't give evidence in chief, they give typed evidence – the party is able to call on them to give oral evidence but this is usually to confirm or deny their evidence, to give evidence about changes since evidence given or to cross examine. Typically expert evidence is given in writing. Judgement is given at the end of the day – he is required to give written reasons as to why he has given this judgement.
There are three main ways to enforce the judgement:
seize some of the defendants assets, to raise money to cover the money owed to the claimant
Garnishment – you find somebody who owes money to the defendant and serve an order on them to pay the claimant e.g. banks and employers – there are substantial limitations they MUST have enough to live on, and you can only take a percentage.
Charging order on property – e.g. if they sell their house, you get your money before they get theirs.
You can appeal if you loose a claim, however it won't stop the other side from collecting. You must have leave to appeal civil judgements: by firstly asking the trial judge or the court of appeal, and proving that you have a reasonable chance of success. If you're really desperate, go to the Supreme court. Or, you know, accept it.