Fast track cases are generally handled by county courts. Unlike multi track cases, small claims and fast track cases are typically resolved in a relatively short period and in such cases, the claimants are seeking awards that are less that £15,000. Any claimant seeking more than £15,000 will find that their case is suitable for the multi track, as their case may take a considerably longer period for their case to be resolved.
Before filing a fast track claim, a claimant should provide the defendant with, what is referred to as, a letter before action. Essentially, the letter before action advises the defendant that a claimant is giving the defendant one final chance to resolve the unsettled dispute before they proceed with filing a claim. A letter before action gives the defendant an opportunity to pay whatever outstanding debt or charge the claimant feels is warranted and it also makes the claimant appear fair: having given the defendant every opportunity to resolve the issue before filing a fast track claim. In general, any small claims filing should be a last resort—every avenue should be pursued to resolve the issue outside of the court’s assistance before bringing the case before the court.
When filing for a fast track claim, claimants will find there are a number of documents required. The N1 form is the form that the county clerk will readily provide the claimant with. The N1 form is the initial form used to file a claim and the claimant will need to provide the claimant information, the defendant’s information, a brief description of the claim, the expected value that the claimant expects to recover in the case, a detailed account of the claim, and a statement of truth. Once all of the N1 forms are completed, the claimant will be expected to pay the court filing fees, which are typically based on the award that is sought.
Once the claim is successfully filed, the defendant will be given ample opportunity to respond to the claim after they have been served with notification. Defendants have 14 days from the date of being legally served to respond to a fast track claim. Of course, the most ideal response is when the defendant pays the claim, but this solution is not always feasible. Defendants have been known to ignore claims and if this occurs, the claimant can file for a judgement of default. Some defendants will admit that they owe part or all of the monies requested and will attempt to work out payment arrangements. Meanwhile, some defendants may dispute the fast track claim entirely and such cases will be addressed by the court in a proceeding that is expected to last no longer than a day.
Once the fast track claim as been resolved, if the claimant seeks to have the judgement enforced, they will need to file for a warrant of execution. Essentially, a bailiff will be sent to the defendant’s location to request the monies that have been awarded. Upon failure to provide the monies requested, certain property owned by the defendant may be subject to seizure, sold at auction, and the monies acquired will be used to pay the judgement. Other alternatives for collecting on a judgement include a garnishee order—an order that allows the claimant to receive payments on the judgement that are automatically deducted from the defendant’s earnings; a charging order—which forces the defendant to pay when they sell certain properties they may own; and in some cases, a claimant can request an oral examination—the defendant will be summoned to appear and court and address the issue at hand.