What’s the difference between small-track claims, fast-track claims, and multi-track claims?
At the compensation experts, we specialise in helping those seeking compensation get the claim that they deserve. If you’ve been the victim of an injury that wasn’t your fault, it can be helpful to know what type of track claim you qualify for.
What are the different types of track claims?
In the unfortunate case that you suffer a personal injury, it can be useful to know which track category your compensation claim could fall into so you can pursue your claim as quickly as possible.
Compensation claim tracks are used to resolve claims in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. Generally speaking, there are three main compensation track categories:
- Small-track claims
- Fast-track claims
- Multi-track claims
Since reforms to certain laws in 2021, these classifications have increased in importance, but many people still don’t know the difference between a small claim, fast-track claim, or multi-track claim.
Naturally, it’s entirely understandable why the majority of people don’t want to go to court for their personal injury case, and many will want to know whether their case will need to go to court before they even make their claim. But in prominent cases, such as serious road traffic accidents or fatal accident claims, this is usually a necessity.
The route that a case follows to become a specific claim track type is decided by the judge presiding over the case. Their decision will be based on the value of the claim and its complexity.
This is where the difference between the claim tracks begins, as some don’t require a court appearance, while others are only applicable if it does go to the courtroom. The choice of claim track can affect everything about the preparation of a case, the length of any court hearings, and even the type of judge overseeing the case in court.
What is a small-track claim?
Small-track claims are the simplest of track claims when compared to a fast-track claim or multi-track claim, and all small-track claims specifically fall under civil law.
Small claims tend to be reserved for low-value and the least complicated claims, and the value of a small claim can never be more than £10,000. The judge will decide to deal with your case without the need for a hearing, in which case, you’ll be sent a notice of allocation to the small claims track.
Essentially, all this means is that the judge believes that your case can be settled without a hearing through just the use of written evidence. You won’t even need to hire a solicitor or other legal representation to complete your case.
What are fast-track claims?
A fast-track claim covers any claim where the maximum value is £25,000 or under. The fast-track claims limit is designed to keep these more expensive claims quick and straightforward in their legal process.
If your claim falls under the fast-track costs, you’ll be set up in a fast-track court. There will be a set date for your hearing, and in theory, your claim will be settled in under a day. The hearing may take place in either a courtroom or in the judge’s room, and either a normal judge or a district judge may hear your trial.
The typical timetable for any case under fast-track law is as follows:
- 4 weeks after fast-track allocation – Disclosure of your case followed by fast-track court inspection.
- 10 weeks after fast-track allocation – Exchange of witness statements for the case.
- 14 weeks after fast-track allocation – Exchange of expert reports for the case; assuming the exchange of reports is allowed by law.
- 20 weeks after fast-track allocation – Pre-trial checklists are dispatched by the court.
- 22 weeks after fast-track allocation – This is usually the deadline for returning pre-trial checklists.
- 30 weeks after fast-track allocation – Final hearing and case resolution.
It’s important to note, however, that not all claims that fall under fast-track costs can be settled in a fast-track court. For cases that meet the fast-track claims limit of £25,000, but are far more complex than anticipated, these claims will be moved to a multi-track claim instead. This will also be the case if your fast-track claim is deemed complex from the outset but falls into the £25,000 fast-track claims limit.
What are multi-track claim cases?
The last legal track that you might deal with to is the multi-track case process.
Multi-track claims are specifically reserved for any cases valued over £25,000, or particularly complex cases that are transferred over under fast-track law. Cases sitting at over £25,000 usually indicates them as being complex, therefore requiring more time to assess and resolve.
Severe injury cases, such as back injury and neck injury claims will often involve your solicitor obtaining a final prognosis from the medical experts treating you in order to understand the extent or permanency of your injuries.
As multi-track claims can take a long time to complete, there is no standard procedure for cases. Each one will take as long as it needs to be resolved. But to keep things moving, the judge in charge of the case can use standard directions, case management conferences, a pre-trial review, or a combination of all of these to keep the case on track.
Using mediation to settle the case
In some cases, your case might not be placed on a claims track. Instead, it may be suggested that you seek mediation as a way of resolving your dispute to the satisfaction of all parties involved.
Mediation is the main way compensation claims are decided when recipients don’t want to go to court. In a mediation, which is voluntary, both sides are helped by an impartial mediator to reach an agreement that is acceptable to everyone involved. You and the other side, rather than the mediator, make the decisions about what settlement will be received, and if you can’t agree during mediation, you can still have a court hearing to decide it.
If you decide to mediate, you can use a mediator of your choice. Because mediation is a voluntary process, it can only take place if both sides agree. The small-claims mediation service is provided by the court free of charge, however, this may not be true of fast-track and multi-track claims.
Here at The Compensation Experts, we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with personal injury claims. This includes fast-track and multi-track claims. Once we put you in touch with a solicitor that matches your case, they’ll guide you through the claims process and help you estimate how much your claim might be worth.
*Conditions may apply