The Ministry of Justice is consulting on measures to extend the Fixed Recoverable Costs (FRC) regime to incorporate an expanded fast track including “intermediate cases”, likely to come in to force over the next 12 to 24 months.
In short, these are cases which are above the current fast track claim value limit of £25,000, but are not suitable for the High Court due to their relatively low value (below £100,000) and complexity. Intermediate cases are generally those which require a trial lasting no longer than three days, where there will be no more than two expert witnesses giving evidence per party, and where there are no wider factors (such as public interest) making the case appropriate for the multi-track.
The four bands of complexity suggested for intermediate cases are:
1. Band 1: the simplest claims that are just over the current fast track limit, where there is only one issue and the trial will likely take a day or less
2. Band 2: the ‘normal’ band for intermediate cases
3. Band 3: more complex intermediate cases
4. Band 4: the most complex, with claims such as business disputes where the trial is likely to last three days and there are serious issues of fact/law to be considered.
The Ministry of Justice is understandably concerned about the costs of litigation to ensure that “ordinary people can engage in civil litigation without fear of incurring ruinous costs” and to provide “certainty and transparency for all involved”. The MOJ has detailed set levels of recoverable costs for a party in each phase of the litigation, intended to provide parties to litigation with such certainty and to increase access to justice.