If you expect to get less than £100,000 you will generally have to start your claim in the County Court. This can be done online via a portal called the County Court Money Claims Centre.
If the debt is higher than £100,000 you will begin in the High Court which is where higher value and more complex disputes are resolved.
Other than the specific Court in which you begin, the size of your claim also affects some of the procedural and costs rules which apply. Remember the basic rule in England and Wales – Loser Pays.
If the value is under £10,000 the Small Claims Track gives you a simplified procedural system for dealing with the claim. However there is a limited capacity to recover your costs if you are on the Small Claims Track – in short, the loser pays rule does not apply so you can only recover a small amount of costs even if you win. This includes the Court Fee, for example, but you will only get a tiny amount of your legal costs back.
If the debt is worth between £10,000 and £25,000 the case will probably be on the Fast Track. Costs recoverability is different here again: the loser pays rule applies but only until the trial begins. At that staged ‘fixed costs’ come into force for the trial; and these are modest (for example you can only recover £1650 in legal trial costs even where the dispute is worth more than £15,000).
What is more (or rather less!) even the pre-trial costs will be limited by the Court to those which are ‘proportionate’ and the Court will take a very active role in deciding what that means.
All other claims are Multi Track claims and generally this means the dispute has to be worth over £25,000. Reflecting the complexity of disputes, the practices and procedures on this track are more flexible than on the other tracks. But on costs the normal rule applies: loser pays.