Pre-Trial for Civil Claims
Pre-action protocol - Firstly, the claimant will have to engage in pre-action protocol, which will involve them sending the defendant information about the claim, this is usually in the form of a letter and will contain details of the claim, including the alleged breach. The defendant will have 3 months to respond to this - accepting or denying liability.
Procedure - If the claimant wishes to start a claim they will need to complete a claim form, detailing the claim, how much they're claiming, and why they think it's negligence. They will have to pay a court fee and the court will send a response pack to the defendant - if D admits negligence they will have to pay the full amount, if they deny it they must send their defence to court within 14 days. If D does nothing the court can make them pay the money and costs - a default order.
If the defendant is going to defend the case it will be allocated to the most suitable 'track', which involves another £100 fee.
Before this the judge will encourage ADR such as negotiation between the two parties or mediation with a neutral 3rd party. They are obliged to do this (post Woolf reforms 1999) under the Access to Justice Act 1999.
The claimant's claim could be heard on the Small Claims Track - this is held in the county court by a district judge and deals with claims of up to £5000(£1000 if personal injury). This is a fast and cheap track as lawyers aren't needed.
The claim could be heard on the Fast Track in the county court by a circuit judge if the claim is of £5000-£25000. It is fast and will be heard in 1 day, within 30 weeks and the judge case manages.
The claim could be hear on the Multi-track, where it could go to either the county court or the Queens Bench Division of the High Court. If the claim is £25000-£50000 it will be heard in the county court. If it's above £50000 or complex it will be heard in the Queens Bench Division of the High Court by a High Court Judge.
Burden of Proof
The claimant must prove all three elements of…