Civil Court Process

Revision cards on the Civil court process;

  • Tracks
  • Allocation to track
  • res ispa loquitar
  • ADR
  • Burden & standard of proof
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Civil court proceedings - ADR, appeals, tracks

Civil cases are heard in the court of firt instance - County Court - High court (QBD)

Appeals - County court - High court - court of appeal (cases of great significance can jump straight to the house of lords)

  • Appeal judge - district judge, court of appeal, house of lords
  • They can - uphold decision, vary consequences, reverse judgement

Most civil cases are settled out of court - ADR (alternative dispute resolution)

Cases are allocated on to 1 of 3 tracks

  • Small claims --> damages less than £5000 and personal injury claims of less than £1000
  • Fast track --> claim for between £5000 and £15000 – limited oral evidence required – case would last less than a day. – Heard in county court.
  • Multi track --> a claim that doesn’t fit the other 2 criteria. – complex, high value and lengthy – Heard in high court 
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Burden & standard of proof

  • The burden of proof lies with the claimant
  • claimant has an obligation to present the facts of the case
  • To establish the facts to a degree of certainty (standard of proof)
  • This standard of proof is on a balance of probabilities – the claimant has to prove that’s its more likely than not that the defendant was negligent.

2 exceptions to this rule

  • If defendant has been convicted of a criminal case that is linked to the damages.
  • If res ispa loquitur occurs. (the thing literally speaks for itself) - if its so obvious negligence has occured that we dont need a burden or standard of proof.
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Res ispa loquitar

Res ispa loquitar translates to 'the thing literally speals for itself'

Res ispa loquitar occurs when it is so obvious that negligance has occured that we dont need a burden or standard of proof. 

There is a 3 part test to establish res ispa loquitar;

  • The thing that caused the harm was wholly under control of the defendant.
  • The accident that caused the damage complained of would not have occurred unless someone had been negligent.
  • There’s no other explanation for the injury to the claimant.

Scott v London & St Katherine's docks - claiment walking along docks + crane lifting sugar dropped sugar on head - D was wholly in control, if it had been tied properly wouldnt have happened, only explaination to injury is this event

Mahon v Osbourne - man had surgery on abdomen, should have made full recovery but post mortem found swab left in him - D was wholly in control, C wouldnt have died it it wasn't for D's negligence, no other explaination for D's death

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