Since 1st April 2007, the courts have been routinely dispensing with the Allocation Questionnaire, particularly if you have filed on-line via MCOL. They are including in the Notice of Transfer of Proceedings a direction along these lines:
Without hearing that the Allocation Questionnaire be dispensed with in this case unless the District Judge at the court of transfer orders otherwise.
We can assume that the courts are so innundated with cases (and allocation questionaires) that they have decided to take this step.
It means the judge may or may not require an AQ to be filed. If the judge requires an AQ you will be notified.
PLEASE BE AWARE THAT EVEN IF THE AQ IS DISPENSED WITH, THE AQ FEE OF £100 (IF CLAIM OVER £1500) MAY STILL BE PAYABLE (AND RECLAIMABLE FROM THE BANK).
You won't know unless you ring the court - they don't send a bill!
The fee is usually payable within 14 days after the despatch of the notice of allocation to track (County Courts Fees Order 1999 Schedule 1). Best to check shortly after hearing which court your case has been transferred to (and write down the name of the person and the date as to whether it is payable or not)
The case has at this point been sent to a local District Judge, who may deal with it in one of several ways. He may :
- require an allocation questionaire or not.
- require an AQ fee be paid if it is allocated into a track - and a fee may be payable or not.
- send the case straight to a pre-trial review.
- stay the case until a Test Case can be heard.
- allocate to a particular track and issues directions
The point is each local judge will deal with this in their own way and will send you a Direction Order
What Can You Do?
If you find yourself in this position - you can, if you wish, still send the Draft Direction to the court you've now been transferred to - the same as if you were filing an AQ using the new strategy:
So, this would mean a cover note like this:
The Court Manager
XXXXX County Court
You -v- Bank Plc
Claim Number: *******
It is noted that in my case referenced above that the Allocation Questionnaire has been dispensed with. I am aware that this is likely due to the large volume of claims that consumers are bring against the high street banks. I am also aware that to date the banks have failed to defend a case in the courts and that they often use the court process to extend and delay the period of time within which they deal with these matters satisfactorily.
In light of this the Claimant respectfully suggests that special directions may be made as per the enclosed draft order.
The Claimant believes the proposed directions will further the Overriding Objectives in that they identify the most fundamental issues in dispute (as detailed below), and allow them to be assessed in advance of any hearing so that this claim may proceed justly and expeditiously.
- The crux upon which this claim rests is the true loss suffered by the Defendant as a result of the contractual breach from which its charges arise. If the Defendant cannot substantiate the cost of each charge as proportionate to its loss incurred, it has charged contractual penalties contrary to the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 and common law principles established since the early 1900's.
- In the event that the Defendant's charges were accepted as being a fee for a service (which is refuted), examination of its true costs is required to determine whether the price is reasonable as required by the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.
The Claimant believes that if the Defendant has the serious intention of defending this claim at trial as is indicated by its defence, that it is incumbent on it to disclose such information. Further, the proposed directions are already routinely ordered in claims of this nature in the Mercantile Court in London, as well as in small claims track cases in Leicester, Derby, Chesterfield, Northampton and Mansfield County Courts.
As the law relating to contractual penalties is long established, the Claimant believes the outstanding issues to be of fact. Accordingly, the Claimant respectfully requests that this claim be allocated to the small claims track, and estimates that the hearing of the claim should last no longer than one hour.
enc: Draft Order
Then enclose the Draft Direction Order on a separate sheet. See here: Draft Direction Order
You can also send 'nudge' letters to the bank's solicitors
Here is a letter you could send when you receive that notice from the court:
Your Bank's Solicitors
Re: [You] - v - [Your Bank]
It has come to my attention that as of xx/xx/07, ( date of the letter from the court) that an Allocation Questionaire may not be required in this case.
I am mindful of the vast number of claims with which you are currently dealing. In order to more speedily resolve this matter, I am willing to accept the sum of £xxxx. (rounded down to nearest pound-keep this as your full amount including charges, interest and court filing fee). I do not agree to waive my rights in respect of any other actions, nor do I agree to a clause of confidentiality.
I hope to hear from you very soon so that a reasonable conclusion to this claim might be achieved. I am sure that the courts would approve of our settling this matter in a timely manner and without their further intervention.
For your records, I enclose another copy of my schedule of charges. I look forward to hearing from you.
Here's another 'nudge' we'll call it number 2
This should be used when the AQ is dispensed with and you have already nudged at least once.
Your Bank's Solicitors
Re: [You] - v - [Your Bank]
I am writing you today in a further effort to ask you to consider my claim. I am most disappointed that you have not even acknowledged my previous correspondence.
I have been notified that the Allocation Questionnaire is being dispensed with in this case and that it has been transferred to whatever county court. I have written to you in the past, asking for you to consider my claim and reply to me. I have heard nothing. Were this to come before a judge, it is obvious who is making any and all attempts at resolution.
It is my feeling that you seem to have no intention of defending this claim in court and are simply procrastinating.
I am mindful of the vast number of claims with which you are currently dealing. In order to more speedily resolve this matter, I am willing to accept the sum of £xxxx as full and final settlement of this particular claim. (rounded down to nearest pound and including your total claim including aq fee ). (Plus daily rate if applicable and you included it in your claim. ie. accept the sum of £xxxx plus £x.xx per day from the date I filed the claim until the date it is resolved) I do not agree to waive my rights in respect of any other actions, nor do I agree to a clause of confidentiality.
Please find enclosed another copy of my schedule of charges relating to this claim.
I hope to hear from you very soon so that a reasonable conclusion to this claim might be achieved. I am sure that the courts would whole heartedly approve of our settling this matter in a timely manner and without their further intervention. I look forward to hearing from you.
Some people have been religiously sending a nudge every 10-14 days and are saying it doesn't make any difference - that the bank will deal when they are ready and the nudge doesn't do anything.
It may well not get you an offer any sooner, but the nudge is a totally valuable tool for a couple of reasons:
1. Just in case your case file is behind some water cooler - they have to find it to log the letter (they don't have to do anything with an e-mail and telephone calls mean absolutely nothing!!)
2. If you have to show a judge what you've been doing to get a resolution - you show him your nudge letters and show that they've have done diddly - this could be important and any stage of the defence - they have been very useful in this regard.
3. It shows the bank that you are up on what's going on - their filing/not filing, looming court dates, deadlines for them to react to, etc. Always remember an offer is better than a default judgment. Don't be afraid to remind them what the court requires - it often niggles them into an offer if they don't want to comply.
4. It is proactive and useful rather than doing nothing.
It is entirely your choice as to which, if any, of the above courses of action you take.
Other than checking with the court as to whether the AQ fee is still payable, you could just wait for Directions from the court.
See this thread New---after 28 Days - Maybe No Aq!!!!!!! here
Draft Direction Order
Allocation Qestionnaire: Stays & Strike Out Requests