FAQs about Commercial/Business Litigation

What are the three tracks of the county court ?

County courts are divided into three tracks: small claims, fast track and multi track.  Claims below £5,000 which do not present too many legal challenges are dealt with in the small claims courts.  Claims from £5,000 to £15,000 are dealt with in multi track.  Claims from £15,000 to £25,000 are dealt with in multi track.  Any sufficiently complex or larger claims are dealt with in the high court.  Generally the larger and more complex a claim is, the more involved and time consuming the process is.

What is Alternate Dispute Resolution ?

As the name suggests, ADR is used as an alternative to the traditional legal channels for making claims.  The two main methods are mediation and arbitration.  Mediation is a conciliatory process where a negotiator (mediator) tries to bring the two parties together, found common ground and solve the legal issue.  If an agreement is reached, it can be recorded on paper. Any breach of that agreement could be treated as a breach of contract allowing the injured party to bring a claim in the courts.  Professional mediators are highly skilled and sensitive in their negotiating and professionals with experience in mediating particular issues are usually easily found.

Arbitration is slightly different from mediation.  Instead of negotiating, an arbitrator is used to decide on the case and both parties agree to give the arbitrator the power to do so.  Again, as is the case with mediation, any judgement reached can be legally binding and a breach of it will influence any future claims through the courts.

What’s the Advisory,Conciliation and Arbitration Service ?

The ACAS is a organisation which helps employers and employees mediate legal issues in order to prevent disputes reaching employment tribunals.  If an application for an employment tribunal is made, the parties will be encouraged to try and mediate the issue through ACAS.  Whilst mediation is advisable where possible, it is not a legal obligation.  However, should any agreement be reached, like mediation for other issues, the agreement can be made legally binding.

What is involved in small claims ?

Small claims courts deal with claims of less than £5,000 and are generally less formal and designed to be more accessible to laymen.   Unlike regular courts, evidence does not have to be given under oath and legal representation is not absolutely necessary, although you are of course allowed to bring an adviser with you.  The process is generally streamlined, although it is still expected that witness statements are exchanged and you will of course have to make a formal application to the courts detailing the particulars of your case.