Exploring the Intermediate Track: A Path to Efficient Case Handling
In the ever-evolving landscape of legal proceedings, a new “intermediate track” has emerged as a valuable framework for case management within the court system. This track offers a balanced approach, ensuring cases are handled effectively while not overburdening the legal system and allows for greater predictability regarding the costs of litigation. In this article, we’ll delve into what the intermediate track encompasses, the criteria for cases to be eligible, what it excludes, and the advantages of using this track.
Understanding the Intermediate Track
When a claim is issued, the judge will allocate the claim to a specific ‘track’. In allocating the case to a track, the court will have regard to the value and complexity of the claim.
On 1 October 2023, the new intermediate track was introduced to the system, designed to create a more efficient and responsive mechanism for handling cases. The intermediate track occupies a middle ground between the small claims track and the fast track and the multi-track.
Importantly, the fixed recoverable costs regime applies to the intermediate track meaning, the costs you can recover will be fixed. Recoverable costs will be dependent on which band of complexity the claim has been assigned to and the stage of litigation achieved. Generally, the higher the complexity band and the closer towards trial, the greater the cost recovery will be. To find out the amount of fixed costs that you will be able to recover, click here and look at Table 14, on pages 13-19.
Criteria for Intermediate Track
Cases eligible for the intermediate track must meet certain criteria:
- The claim includes a claim for monetary relief, the of value of which is at least £25,000 but, no more than £100,000.
- The trial will not last more than 3 days.
- Oral expert evidence at trial is likely to be limited to two experts per party.
- There are no more than 3 parties to the proceedings.
The cases that may be typically appropriate for the intermediate track include cases where liability is relatively straightforward, for example personal injury claims with clear evidence of fault, cases of moderate complexity not requiring extensive and time-consuming discovery proceedings and those where both parties are willing to engage in alternative dispute resolution.
Even where a case does not meet the outlined criteria, the court may allocate a claim to the intermediate track where it considers that it would be in the interest of justice to do so.
Exclusions from Intermediate Track
Not all cases are suited for the intermediate track. Cases which will be typically excluded from this track will include those involving great complexity, extensive discovery, or those with a history of contentious litigation. Cases in which the relief sought includes non-monetary relief, will not normally be allocated to the intermediate track unless the court considers it in the interest of justice to do so.
There are some specific exclusions for when a claim should not be allocated to the intermediate track including criminal offences such as felonies or a claim for damages in relation to harm, abuse or neglect of children or vulnerable adults. Similarly, a claim for clinical negligence would normally not be suitable for the intermediate track unless the claim is one which would normally be allocated to the intermediate track and both breach of duty and causation have been admitted.
Advantages of Using the Intermediate Track
The intermediate track offers several advantages, making it an attractive option for many claimants and legal professionals:
- Resolution Focus: One of the most significant benefits is that this track encourages parties to focus on resolution rather than adversarial litigation, which can be beneficial in maintaining relationships and reducing legal expenses incurred.
- Cost Savings: Since the fixed recoverable costs regime applies to the intermediate track, there is greater predictability regarding the amounts winning parties can recover.
- Efficiency: Another significant benefit is the time saved. By avoiding lengthy trials, cases can be resolved more swiftly, reducing the burden on the court system.
In conclusion, the intermediate track has emerged as a valuable framework in the landscape of legal proceedings. It balances the need for efficient case resolution with the demand for thorough examination and encourages early settlement reducing legal expenses. Parties must strategically consider when to choose the intermediate track, as it can save time, money, and court resources.
This article has been fact-checked and authorised by the Head of the Real Estate Litigation team, and Training Partner Michael Lewis. If you have any questions or thoughts, please reach out to him by clicking here.