PRACTICE DIRECTION 7A – HOW TO START PROCEEDINGS – THE CLAIM FORM This Practice Direction supplements CPR Part 7
Subject to the following provisions of this practice direction, proceedings which both the High Court and the the County Court have jurisdiction to deal with may be started in the High Court or in the County Court.
Where to start proceedings
Proceedings (whether for damages or for a specified sum) may not be started in the High Court unless the value of the claim is more than £100,000.
Proceedings which include a claim for damages in respect of personal injuries must not be started in the High Court unless the value of the claim is £50,000 or more (paragraph 9 of the High Court and the County Court Jurisdiction Order 1991 (S.I. 1991/724 as amended) describes how the value of a claim is to be determined).
A claim must be issued in the High Court or the County Court if an enactment so requires.
Subject to paragraphs 2.1 and 2.2 above, a claim should be started in the High Court if by reason of:
(1) the financial value of the claim and the amount in dispute, and/or
(2) the complexity of the facts, legal issues, remedies or procedures involved, and/or
(3) the importance of the outcome of the claim to the public in general,
the claimant believes that the claim ought to be dealt with by a High Court judge.
(CPR Part 30 and Practice Direction 30 contain provisions relating to the transfer to the County Court of proceedings started in the High Court and vice-versa.)
(1) A claim in the County Court under Part 7 may be made at any County Court hearing centre, unless any enactment, rule or practice direction provides otherwise.
(2) If a claim which is required to be made at a particular County Court hearing centre is made at the wrong hearing centre, a court officer will send the claim to the correct hearing centre before it is issued.
(3) A claimant should consider the potential delay which may result if a claim is not made at the correct County Court hearing centre in the first instance.
A claim relating to Business and Property work (which includes any of the matters specified in paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 to the Senior Courts Act 1981 and which includes any work under the jurisdiction of the Business and Property Courts, may, subject to any enactment, rule or practice direction, be dealt with in the High Court or in the County Court. The claim form should, if issued in the High Court, be marked in the top right hand corner ‘Business and Property Courts’ and, if issued in the County Court, be marked ‘Business and Property work’ (save, in the County Court, for those areas listed in paragraph 4.2 of the Business and Property Courts Practice Direction as exceptions).
(For the equity jurisdiction of the County Court, see section 23 of the County Courts Act 1984.)
A claim relating to any of the matters specified in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) of paragraph 2 of Schedule 1 to the Senior Courts Act 1981 must be dealt with in the High Court and will be assigned to the Queen’s Bench Division.
Practice directions applying to particular types of proceedings, or to proceedings in particular courts, will contain provisions relating to the commencement and conduct of those proceedings.
A claim in the High Court for which a jury trial is directed will, if not already being dealt with in the Queen’s Bench Division, be transferred to that Division.
The following proceedings may not be started in the County Court unless the parties have agreed otherwise in writing:
(1) a claim for damages or other remedy for libel or slander, and
(2) a claim in which the title to any toll, fair, market or franchise is in question.
The following proceedings may not be started in the County Court unless the parties have agreed otherwise in writing:
(1) Subject to paragraph 2.9, a claim relating to media and communications work (which includes any work which would fall within the jurisdiction of the Media and Communications List if issued in the High Court) may be started in the County Court or High Court; and paragraph 2.1 shall not apply to such a claim.
(2) Such a claim should be started in the High Court if, by reason of the factors set out in paragraph 2.4(1) to (3), the claimant believes that the claim ought to be dealt with by a High Court judge.
(3) If a claimant starts such a claim in the High Court and the court decides that it should have been started in the County Court, the court will normally transfer it to the County Court on its own initiative. This is likely to result in delay.
(1) The normal rules apply in deciding in which court and specialist list a claim that includes issues under the Human Rights Act 1998 should be started. They also apply in deciding which procedure to use to start the claim; this Part or CPR Part 8 or CPR Part 54 (judicial review).
(2) The exception is a claim for damages in respect of a judicial act, which should be commenced in the High Court. If the claim is made in a notice of appeal then it will be dealt with according to the normal rules governing where that appeal is heard.
(the County Court cannot make a declaration of incompatibility in accordance with section 4 of the Human Rights Act 1998. Legislation may direct that such a claim is to be brought before a specified tribunal)
The claim form
Rule 7.9 deals with fixed date claims and rule 7.10 deals with the Production Centre for the issue of claims; there are separate practice directions supplementing rules 7.9 and 7.10.
If a claimant wishes the claim to proceed under Part 8, or if the claim is required to proceed under Part 8, the claim form should so state. Otherwise the claim will proceed under Part 7. But note that in respect of claims in specialist proceedings (listed in CPR Part 49) and claims brought under the RSC or CCR set out in the Schedule to the CPR (see CPR Part 50) the CPR will apply only to the extent that they are not inconsistent with the rules and practice directions that expressly apply to those claims.
Other practice directions may require special practice forms to be used to commence particular types of proceedings, or proceedings in particular courts.
Where a claim form to be served out of the jurisdiction is one which the court has power to deal with –
(a) under the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982; and
(b) the Judgments Regulation (which has the same meaning as in rule 6.31(d)),
the claim form must, pursuant to rule 6.34, be filed and served with the notice referred to in that rule and paragraph 2.1 of Practice Direction 6B.
If a claim for damages or for an unspecified sum is started in the High Court, the claim form must:
(1) state that the claimant expects to recover more than £100,000 (or £50,000 or more if the claim is for personal injuries) or
(2) state that some enactment provides that the claim may only be commenced in the High Court and specify that enactment or
(3) state that the claim is to be in one of the specialist High Court lists (see CPR Parts 49 and 58–62) and specify that list.
If the contents of a claim form commencing specialist proceedings comply with the requirements of the specialist list in question the claim form will also satisfy paragraph 3.6 above.
If a claim for damages for personal injuries is started in the County Court, the claim form must state whether or not the claimant expects to recover more than £1000 in respect of pain, suffering and loss of amenity.
(1) If a claim for damages for personal injuries is started in the County Court, the claim form must state whether or not the claimant expects to recover more than £1000 in respect of pain, suffering and loss of amenity.
(2) Paragraph (1) does not apply to a claim where the following rules apply—
(a) rule 26.5A, which provides that a claim started under Practice Direction 27B shall be treated as allocated to the small claims track; or
(b) rule 26.6A, which, pursuant to rule 26.6(1)(a), sets out the circumstances where, in a claim for personal injuries arising from a road traffic accident, the small claims track will be the normal track for any claim for personal injuries where the total value of the claim is not more than £10,000 and the value of the claim for personal injuries is not more than £1,000.
(3) Where paragraph (2) applies, the claim form must state whether or not the claimant expects to recover more than £1000 in respect of pain, suffering and loss of amenity.
(4) ‘Road traffic accident’ means an accident resulting in bodily injury to any person caused by, or arising out of, the use of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place in England and Wales unless the injury was caused wholly or in part by a breach by the defendant of one or more of the relevant statutory provisions as defined by section 53 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
If a claim for housing disrepair which includes a claim for an order requiring repairs or other work to be carried out by the landlord is started in the County Court, the claim form must state:
(1) whether or not the cost of the repairs or other work is estimated to be more than £1000, and
(2) whether or not the claimant expects to recover more than £1000 in respect of any claim for damages1.
Title of proceedings
The claim form and every other statement of case, must be headed with the title of the proceedings. The title should state:
(1) the number of proceedings,
(2) the court or Division in which they are proceeding,
(3) the full name of each party,
(4) each party’s status in the proceedings (i.e. claimant/defendant).
(Paragraph 2.6 of Practice Direction 16 sets out what is meant by a full name in respect of each type of claimant.)
Where there is more than one claimant and/or more than one defendant, the parties should be described in the title as follows:
- EF Claimants
- KL Defendants
Starting a Part 7 Claim in the County Court
(1) Subject to subparagraph (2), if a claim—
(a) is started in the County Court under Part 7;
(b) is a claim only for an amount of money, whether specified or unspecified; and
(c) is not a claim for which special procedures are provided in the Civil Procedure Rules or practice directions,
practice form N1 must be sent to: County Court Money Claims Centre, PO Box 527, M5 0BY.
(2) For the purpose of this Practice Direction, the procedure in Practice Direction 7D is not a special procedure.
In proceedings referred to in paragraph 4A.1, the claimant must specify the preferred hearing centre on practice form N1.
Start of proceedings
Proceedings are started when the court issues a claim form at the request of the claimant (see rule 7.2) but where the claim form as issued was received in the court office on a date earlier than the date on which it was issued by the court, the claim is ‘brought’ for the purposes of the Limitation Act 1980 and any other relevant statute on that earlier date.
The date on which the claim form was received by the court will be recorded by a date stamp either on the claim form held on the court file or on the letter that accompanied the claim form when it was received by the court.
An enquiry as to the date on which the claim form was received by the court should be directed to a court officer.
Parties proposing to start a claim which is approaching the expiry of the limitation period should recognise the potential importance of establishing the date the claim form was received by the court and should themselves make arrangements to record the date.
Where it is sought to start proceedings against the estate of a deceased defendant where probate or letters of administration have not been granted, the claimant should issue the claim against ‘the personal representatives of A.B. deceased’. The claimant should then, before the expiry of the period for service of the claim form, apply to the court for the appointment of a person to represent the estate of the deceased.
Claims by and against partnerships within the jurisdiction
Paragraphs 5A and 5B apply to claims that are brought by or against two or more persons who –
(1) were partners; and
(2) carried on that partnership business within the jurisdiction, at the time when the cause of action accrued.
For the purposes of this paragraph, ‘partners’ includes persons claiming to be entitled as partners and persons alleged to be partners.
Where that partnership has a name, unless it is inappropriate to do so, claims must be brought in or against the name under which that partnership carried on business at the time the cause of action accrued.
Partnership membership statements
In this paragraph a ‘partnership membership statement’ is a written statement of the names and last known places of residence of all the persons who were partners in the partnership at the time when the cause of action accrued, being the date specified for this purpose in accordance with paragraph 5B.3.
If the partners are requested to provide a copy of a partnership membership statement by any party to a claim, the partners must do so within 14 days of receipt of the request.
In that request the party seeking a copy of a partnership membership statement must specify the date when the relevant cause of action accrued.
(Signing of the acknowledgment of service in the case of a partnership is dealt with in paragraph 4.4 of Practice Direction 10)
Persons carrying on business in another name
This paragraph applies where –
(1) a claim is brought against an individual;
(2) that individual carries on a business within the jurisdiction (even if not personally within the jurisdiction); and
(3) that business is carried on in a name other than that individual’s own name (‘the business name’).
The claim may be brought against the business name as if it were the name of a partnership.
Particulars of claim
Where the claimant does not include the particulars of claim in the claim form, they may be served separately:
(1) either at the same time as the claim form, or
If the particulars of claim are not included in or have not been served with the claim form, the claim form must contain a statement that particulars of claim will follow4.
(These paragraphs do not apply where the Part 8 procedure is being used. For information on matters to be included in the claim form or the particulars of claim, see Part 16 (statements of case) and Practice Direction 16.)
Statement of Truth
Part 22 requires the claim form and, where they are not included in the claim form, the particulars of claim, to be verified by a statement of truth.
The form of the statement of truth is as follows:
‘[I believe][the claimant believes] that the facts stated in [this claim form] [these particulars of claim] are true.’
Attention is drawn to rule 32.14 which sets out the consequences of verifying a statement of case containing a false statement without an honest belief in its truth.
Extension of time
An application under rule 7.6 (for an extension of time for serving a claim form under rule 7.6(1)) must be made in accordance with Part 23 and supported by evidence.
The evidence should state:
(1) all the circumstances relied on,
(2) the date of issue of the claim,
(3) the expiry date of any rule 7.6 extension, and
(4) a full explanation as to why the claim has not been served.
(For information regarding (1) written evidence see Part 32 and Practice Direction 32 and (2) service of the claim form see Part 6 and Practice Directions 6A and 6B.)