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Published 21 April 2023
The new fixed costs rules will usher in a new intermediate track, for cases with a value of between £25,000 and £100,000. This was Sir Rupert Jackson’s original recommendation when he published his 2nd report in 2017. The Ministry of Justice had consulted on “an expanded fast track” instead, largely to avoid additional administration for the courts, but it was never clear how such an expansion would work in practice. In drafting the rule changes, it became obvious that the expansion idea would be too problematic and so the MoJ has agreed to create the new separate track.
The procedure for the intermediate track is a hybrid of those for the fast track and the multi-track, with more active case management by the courts but with directions still likely to follow a standard pattern. It is designed mainly for damages/money claims, with a limit on 3 days of court time for trial and various categories of case automatically excluded.
The court will fix a case management conference and the parties must endeavour to agree appropriate directions and file them with the court before the hearing. If agreed directions are approved, the hearing will be vacated.
The issues to be covered by the directions are set out in the revised Part 28. There will be standard disclosure in PI claims, but for other types of claim the court will also have a menu of other options to keep disclosure within manageable limits.
As well as covering the mechanics of providing witness statements and expert evidence, the directions will also usually require that statements do not exceed 30 pages and expert reports 20 pages (excluding photographs, plans etc.). Parties are to note that this is a limit for witnesses and experts and not of itself a basis for removing the case from fixed costs. The costs, which can be found in Table 14, follow the case management steps.
Andrew Parker, Will Potts, Michael McCabe