Once the court has received the claim form and the defence it will send out ‘directions’ (instructions). The directions may include requiring the parties to fill in what are known as Allocation Questionnaires. Once those questionnaires have been received the court will allocate the claim to a particular ‘track’. The tracks in personal injury claims are as follows:
- Small Claims Track – where the claim for personal injury compensation is less than £1,000
- Fast Track – where the claim for personal injury compensation does not exceed £25,000, and
- Multi-Track – for all other claims.
A judge may also require both parties to come to a court Hearing to investigate the issues in the case. This Hearing may be called a ‘directions’ Hearing or a ‘case management’ Hearing and is not the same as a trial. If you are in any doubt as to the type of Hearing you are to attend, carefully read the Order notifying you of the Hearing, which the court will have sent to you and, if necessary, contact the court to clarify exactly what they expect to do at that Hearing and what you need to do to prepare for it.
In any event it is very important that both parties comply with any dates that are given by the court. If they do not, the claim or the defence may not be allowed to proceed and the other party will have won.
The aim of the directions given by the court are to enable both parties to be ready for the trial, where the issues they do not agree upon will be dealt with.
If you are not sure about some of the terminology in the directions given by the court you may wish to check the Civil Procedure Rules to see if they may help explain what is being requested. You can also write to the judge to ask them to explain what is meant by a certain direction or Order.
Once you have been given the date for the trial of the case you will need to make sure that you have all you need in time for it. Make sure you comply with any directions given by the court to prepare for the trial. You will need to have all of your relevant evidence ready to be given at trial, including evidence from an expert (this may be a written statement or letter), and you will need to have an up to date Schedule of Past and Future Expenses and Losses. See Section 3 for further help on preparing for trial.
Personal injury cases can be complex both in terms of deciding whether someone else has caused your injury or illness and in trying to work out how much compensation you are owed. Further assistance can be obtained from the Citizens Advice Bureau here.
Remember, going to court should be a last resort and can be a very stressful, expensive and complicated process. If you lose you may have to fund the other party’s legal costs (which can be very high) as well as any compensation that the court Orders you to pay. If you can, you should try to resolve your problem before you get to that stage.
The law can be complicated. This guide explains things as clearly and as briefly as possible, but will only give you an overview of what you need to do if you have a civil (non-crime) law legal problem.
Before you take any action, try to get advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau, law centre or independent advice agency. This guide is not legal advice. It is intended to help you to find your way around a difficult and complex system. All information was correct at the time of writing (April 2013)