Court Date?; A Guide to the Different Hearings
- 1 GOT A COURT DATE? A guide to the later stages
- 2 Allocation hearing
- 3 Prelim/Directions hearing
- 4 The Final Hearing (the Hearing of the Claim)
- 4.1 Have you got directions?
- 4.2 Check your notice of allocation.
- 4.3 What directions have been ordered?
- 4.4 The small claims track 'standard directions'
- 4.5 The documents/evidence you will need to submit will include;
- 4.6 'Special' directions
- 4.7 Standard Disclosure
- 4.8 Other Documents
- 4.9 What if the bank doesn't comply with its directions?
- 4.10 Directions have been complied with - what next?
- 4.11 Can I claim any costs?
- 4.12 Arrrghhhhh! Help! I really don't fancy the idea of going to court!
- 4.13 Disclaimer;
- 5 Related Pages
GOT A COURT DATE? A guide to the later stages
What type of hearing is it?
These types of hearings are primarily to decide upon which track your claim will be allocated to, so your main objective would be to argue for allocation to the small claims track. Other matters could also be decided such as directions, and the judge may attempt to narrow the issues in dispute.
Similar to an allocation hearing, but usually allocation will have already been decided. The main purpose of these hearings is for the judge to make directions or other orders, narrow the issues, and otherwise decide how the claim is to proceed. The exact reason for a Prelim hearing should be stated at the top of the order.
You won't need your full bundle for any of the above hearings - its not the 'final' hearing so you won't have to argue your case as such. However, it is a good idea to make sure you brush up your knowledge of the basis of your claim, in case any of the issues are discussed or the judge asks you any general questions. The judge could also attempt to get the parties to agree to a settlement at these types of hearings.
Stuff to take with you:
Bank statements & schedule of charges (in case they want to settle)
Statement of evidence (to refer to if necessary)
- Copy of the text of the Lincoln 'abuse' order
- Optional - take if you want to show it to the judge and politely suggest that a similar order may be appropriate in your claim.
The Final Hearing (the Hearing of the Claim)
Have you got directions?
Directions are orders from the court which tell you what action you need to take in advance of the hearing. Usually, they will tell you to submit your evidence or other specific documents to the court office and the other side, by a specified date.
Check your notice of allocation.
It should specify the court date and time, the track your claim is allocated to, the directions you need to comply with, and the date by which you need to comply with them.
Its very important that you comply with the directions in full, and on time - failure to do so could put your claim at risk of being struck out!!!
What directions have been ordered?
The small claims track 'standard directions'
Typically in small claims track cases, the directions will be these -
To comply with these directions, you will need to submit copies of all the evidence and other documents upon which you would rely on in court, to both the other side and the court office, no later than 14 days before the date of the hearing.
You must retain the original documents.
The documents/evidence you will need to submit will include;
- Schedule of charges
- Statements showing charges have been made
- All correspondence between you and the bank
- All cases and statutes upon which your claim relies
- OFT report
All this can be found in the Basic Court Bundle
You must also include a copy of your Terms & Conditions, ideally from when you opened the account. There is a library of T & C's This is new and is a work in progress, more and more are being added all the time so check here: Terms & Conditions
Additionally, you should add as much other evidence as you can compile. Examples of other useful pieces of evidence are;
Increasingly in many penalty charges claims, more specific 'special' directions are being ordered, such as those proposed in the new strategy for AQ's. They generally look like this, although can vary slightly:
To comply with these directions, you need to submit to the court office and other side everything which is asked for in the claimants part of the order. In the example given above, this would be;
a) A schedule of charges
b) Statements or account info provided under your subject access request
c) A statement of evidence
d) Cases and statutes, as found in the Basic Court Bundle
Take notice of the strict deadlines given in orders of this type - its even more important than ever to get everything ready and submitted in plenty of time.
Useful thread kaz v lloyds visa ***WON***
Normally only ordered in fast and Multi-track cases, standard disclosure usually requires both parties to list each and every document which they have referred to previously or intend to refer to at the hearing. All documents or matters which a party wishes to rely on in order to substantiate its case at court must be listed then later disclosed. Lists then have to be submitted by a specified date.
For the claimant, its list would include all evidence and documents as previously referred to in the 'small claims track standard directions' section above. See below for an example of a claimant's standard disclosure list:
Useful thread: DavidC Vs Lloyds TSB.
You may also be directed to provide other documents, most commonly a witness statement. A witness statement will often be asked for alongside the small claims track standard directions. Others include case summary, statement of evidence, etc.
What if the bank doesn't comply with its directions?
This is likely. The consequences for the bank depend on the nature of the directions order.
In the case of the standard small claims directions, you could write and complain to the court, who would then probably order them to comply by a certain date or else they would not be able to rely on any documents in court.
If it is ordered that they must provide a specific document/s and they don't, you can request that the court strike out their defence.
Directions have been complied with - what next?
Most banks would have settled long before now, but if not then all you can do is prepare your case thoroughly and wait for the court date. Practise your arguments, and draw up some case notes.
It is essential to read these threads if a court date is immanent -
Lloyds in particular are getting into a very bad habit lately of letting the claimant actually get to court on the day, only to find that the solicitors have sent a fax to the court indicating that they will settle. What will usually happen then is that the judge will adjourn for two weeks to enable the settlement to be finalised.
Can I claim any costs?
Costs are strictly limited in the small claims track, so not usually, no. If the above is the case however, and you actually get to the hearing, you have a right to request costs for your travel expenses to the hearing and loss of earnings caused by attending the hearing - under CPR 27.14(3)(b)&(c).
Additionally, you could also request case preparation costs on the grounds that the Defendant has behaved unreasonably. The basis for this would be that the Defendant has had months to offer and arrange a settlement if it had wished to, but instead chose to rebut or ignore all attempts at meaningful dialogue, only to settle at the last minute after you had been already incurred losses by way of costs of bundle preparation time, etc.
If you wish to pursue this, take with you to court a List of settled cases, a copy of the Lincoln 'abuse' order, copies of all correspondence between you and the bank (except WP marked obviously) and a breakdown of your costs/expenses in preparing your case (bundle, etc) at £9.25p/h. Try to particularise everything as accurately as you can, and include receipts where possible.
Respectfully point out the Defendant's obstructive conduct - regarding the pattern of settled cases generally as well as in your own claim. Don't directly accuse them of anything, just state some facts and let the judge draw his own conclusions. See if you can get the preparation costs awarded on the grounds of the defendant's abusive and 'unreasonable behaviour' citing CPR 27.14 (2)(g).
Remember to keep it reasonable - the judge won't award anything if he/she thinks your being greedy!
Useful thread: Mindzai & Lucid v Lloyds TSB
Arrrghhhhh! Help! I really don't fancy the idea of going to court!
Don't panic! It is highly unlikely that you'll have to. The banks tactics are solely to put as many procedural obstacles in your way as possible. Its a 'game' of who blinks first. Not one bank has seriously contested a claim in court yet, and there is no indication that they intend to start now. Once they have done their best to intimidate you and wear you down, they pay - although as described above, sometimes this can be a couple of days before, or even the day of, the hearing.
Having said that, there is a first time for everything and you should be fully prepared for every eventuality.
Even if you did have to go however, small claims court is nothing to fear. Its specifically designed to be informal and accessible to normal people without the need for solicitors. Contrary to popular belief, small claims cases are held in nothing more than an office type room with you, the other side (if they turn up!) and the judge sat around a table. The judge will recognise the fact that you are a litigant in person and make allowances accordingly. Its only natural to be nervous, but you'll soon relax once you get started.
The key is to be punctual, prepared and polite!
This thread does not cover every single eventuality or which may arise in the later stages of the claiming process. Its intended to be a rough guide only. If something arises in your claim which is not covered here, or your still not 100% sure of something, its highly recommended that you seek further advice on your thread.