New Technology and Construction Court Guidance on ‘Low Value’ Claims
The Technology and Construction Court (TCC) of the High Court of Justice has recently considered the approach that it should take to low value claims commenced in the TCC. In west country Renovations Limited v McDowell and Another  EWHC 307 (TCC) (23 February 2012) Mr Justice Akenhead was invited by the parties to permit a claim with a value in the region of £100,000 and to remain within the auspices of the TCC. Mr Justice Akenhead had suggested to the parties that, this being a relatively small claim, the claim should be transferred to the Central London County Court, however, the parties argued that they would prefer to stay in the High Court for the following reasons:
a) The TCC in the High Court was a victim of its own success due to its case management practices and ability to secure reasonably early trial dates.
b) The case was important to the parties involved and both parties were anxious to have the dispute resolved efficiently.
c) There was a good chance that the case would settle and any transfer to the County Court would not particularly assist that process.
Mr Justice Akenhead concluded that it was appropriate to transfer the claim to the Central London County Court for practical as well as policy reasons. Mr Justice Akenhead said that his decision in this case and the matters which he has considered will form the basis of the likely new practice in the TCC. Accordingly the TCC’s approach to cases will be as follows:
(1) Generally claims which are for less than £250,000 should be commenced in the County Courts or other High Court Centres outside London which have TCC designated Judges.
(2) However a non-exclusive list of exceptions is as follows:
(a) cases involving adjudications including enforcements and arbitrations may be started in the High Court irrespective of the financial amount involved;
(b) international cases of any value will ordinarily be accepted;
(c) cases involving new or difficult points of law in TCC business or which have issues of technical complexity suitable for a High Court Judge;
(d) any test case or case which will be joined with others which will be treated as test cases;
(e) public procurement cases;
(f) part 8 and other claims for declarations;
(g) claims which cannot readily be dealt with effectively in a County Court or Civil Justice Centre by a designated TCC Judge;
(h) complex nuisance claims brought by a number of parties even where the sums claimed are small;
(i) claims for injunctions.
Mr Justice Akenhead emphasised that a Claimant can issue a claim in any Court but that if he or she selects an inappropriate Court or division in which to do so they run the risk that the Court on its own motion or an application may transfer it elsewhere and it appears likely that if the case does not meet the criteria set out by Mr Justice Akenhead then the case will in all likelihood be transferred.
If you would like any more information on this tpoic, please contact Philip Vickers.