ConsumerWiki - Allocation Questionnaire

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Allocation Questionnaires - An introduction

From the moment your claim starts in the court, the emphasis will be on moving to a hearing as soon as possible.

If you have followed our guide to claiming then you will have already attempted to reach a settlement without the court's involvement but the Allocation Questionnaire is the final chance to reach settlement via discussion.

What Does Allocation Mean?

The courts recognise that all cases vary and will require different timescales for hearings. To cater for this diversity, the rules create 3 different categories of case management - TRACKS. The AQs, along with the original claim form and any defence, will help a Judge to determine the track for your case. This process is known as the allocation.

What is a Track?

The 3 case management categories are termed tracks;

Small Claims Track

  • For claim values up to £5,000 (excluding injury or housing matters)

Fast Track

  • For claim values between £5,000 and £15,000
  • Where the case can be heard in one day or less

Multi Track

  • Cases which fall outside of the above scenarios

What else Do I Need to Know?

An allocation questionnaire will be sent to both sides, but only if the defendant submits a defence.

  • You have 14 days from receipt of the AQ to return it to the court
  • Failure to meet the deadline could see your case being struck out
  • There is a fee* if your claim exceeds £1,500 in value
  • You must return payment with the form
  • Failure to pay the fee may result in your case being struck out
  • The fee is:
    • small claim for money of £1,500 or less no fee - no fee
    • small claim for money where the claim is between £1,500 and £5,000 - £35
    • all other claims - £200

But you may not have to pay if you are in receipt of certain state benefits.

See Court Fees

Do I Have the Correct Form?

There are 2 types of Allocation Questionnaires, form N149 and N150.

Form N149 should be issued for claims that are considered likely to be handled by the Small Claims Track. See N149 Guide below, and form N150 for more complex or higher value claims. See N150 Guide below

The N149 is very straight forward - in fact the AQ itself, being a 'multi-purpose' document, is not really tailored to the needs of a small claims case.

Since the N150 is usually distributed for claims which are likely to fall outside of the scope of Small Claims Track, it is slightly more in-depth and has a few more sections. However, do not be worried if you receive one and your claim is under £5,000 - it could just be a mistake. There is no harm in completing one of these for smaller claims...


Please note that allocation questionnaires are now frequently being dispensed with for bank charges claims as the courts now realise that the banks are mounting sham defences and are wasting the courts' time.

Please be aware that the court should inform you about this but you may still be required to pay the allocation fee. You should double check with the court

N149 Completing The Allocation Questionnaire

An online PDF version of the form is here

Section A - Settlement

Do you wish any further action in this claim to be postponed for one month so that you and the other party can attempt to settle the claim either by informal discussion or by alternative dispute resolution?

You have given ample opportunity to resolve this matter with your bank / credit card company etc. so there is no need to allow further time. TICK NO

Section B - Location of Hearing

The claim will be heard in the court to which this form must be returned. Is there any

reason why it should be transferred to another court to be heard?

If the reply address is your local court, then TICK NO. If the reply address has changed to another location, then TICK YES and state that since you, as a private individual, are claiming against a company who carries on business in this location, then the case should be heard locally to you.

Section C - Track

Do you agree that the small claims track is the most suitable track for this claim?

TICK YES

Section D - Witnesses

So far as you know at this stage, how many witnesses (other than yourself) do you intend to call to give evidence at the hearing?

Enter the number of witnesses you intend to call to give evidence not including yourself or any expert witness Typically this would be 0

Section E - Experts

Do you want permission to use an expert’s report at the hearing?

Unless you know otherwise, TICK NO

Section F - Hearing

Are there any days within the next four months when you, an expert or a witness will

not be able to attend court for the hearing?

Unless you know of specific date that you cannot attend court (holidays etc) then TICK NO .

Section G - Other Information

In the space below, set out any other information you consider will help the judge to manage or clarify the claim, including any other information you consider should be supplied by the other party.

Give details of any other information that you consider will help the judge to manage the claim, referring as necessary to any documents you might have attached. Bear in mind however that at this stage you need not attach all other documents which you wish the court to consider at the hearing. This is something you will later be asked to provide.

You should state here that you believe the case will last no longer than 1 hour.

You may wish to add reasons why the case is more suitable for Small Claims Track if your claim value exceeds £5,000 or provide reasoning why the other side should provide evidence of their costs!

We recommend that include a request for the Judge to order a form of 'basic' disclosure from the bank. Many courts have now started to issue these, so the request is likely to have been seen by your Judge before.

A small note explaining its intended use would help. Do not make this too lengthy, just explain that it has been attached for consideration and you believe it will bring a speedy end to Litigation. State that it was devised by the Mercantile Courts for a similar case.

We advise that you include with your AQ a suggested template for a Draft Direction Order

Section H - Fee

Have you attached the fee for filing this allocation questionnaire?

You should note that if you do not pay this fee it might lead to your claim being struck out. If you are the claimant, depending on the value of your claim, you may have to pay a court fee.

If you have not applied for fee exemption or remission, the fee must be sent to the court at the same time as your completed questionnaire - in other words, you could get help from the court.

If you are in receipt of certain benefits, or if this fee would cause you undue hardship, it may be possible to pay nothing, a reduced fee, or even have the payment deferred until a later time. Contact the Court directly if you think this applies to you.

Section I - Signature

This questionnaire must be signed by only the party to the claim, or litigation friend, or legal representative.


N150 Completing The Allocation Questionnaire

An online PDF version of the form is here

Section A - Settlement

If you think that you and the other party may be able to negotiate a settlement you should tick the ‘Yes’ box. The court may order a stay, whether or not all the other parties to the claim agree.

You should still complete the rest of the questionnaire, even if you are requesting a stay. Where a stay is granted, it will be for an initial period of one month. You may settle the claim either by informal discussion with the other party or by alternative dispute resolution (ADR).


You have given ample opportunity to resolve this matter with your bank / credit card company etc. so there is no need to allow further time. TICK NO

Section B - Location of Trial

Is there any reason why your claim needs to be heard at a particular court?


Better safe than sorry here - TICK YES and state that since you, as a private individual, are claiming against a company who carries on business in this location, then the case should be heard locally to you. It is unlikely that it would have been moved, but for the sake of writing the above, you could end up saving yourself a long journey!

Section C - Pre-action protocols

If an approved pre-action protocol applies to this claim, complete Part 1 only. If not, complete Part 2 only.

If you answer ‘No’ to the question in either Part 1 or 2, please explain the reasons why on a separate sheet and attach it to this questionnaire.


Before any claim is started, the court expects you to have exchanged information and documents relevant to the claim, to assist in settling it. For some types of claim e.g. personal injury, there are approved protocols that should have been followed. No pre-action protocols apply to these claims, so TICK in part 2 - Yes if you have included a spreadsheet of charges etc, NO if you have not.

Section D - Case management information

Amount of Claim

What amount of the claim is in dispute?


Enter the total value of your claim in the space provided - This should include all interest but not costs.

Applications

Have you made any application(s) in this claim?


It is important for the court to know if you have already made any applications in the claim, what they are for and when they will be heard. The outcome of the applications may affect the case management directions the court gives. Unless you know otherwise, there are no applications - TICK NO

Witnesses

So far as you know at this stage, what witnesses of fact do you intend to call at the trial or final hearing

including, if appropriate, yourself?


Remember to include yourself as a witness of fact, if you will be giving evidence. Unless you know of other witnesses, simply include your own details.

Experts

Do you wish to use expert evidence at the trial or final hearing?


Oral or written expert evidence will only be allowed at the trial or final hearing with the court’s permission. The judge will decide what permission it seems appropriate to give when the claim is allocated to track. Permission in small claims track cases will only be given exceptionally.

Unless you know differently, TICK NO.

Track

Which track do you consider is most suitable for your claim?

The basic guide by which claims are normally allocated to a track is the amount in dispute, although other factors such as the complexity of the case will also be considered. A leaflet available from the court office explains the limits in greater detail. Follow the guidelines regarding the value of your claim and TICK the appropriate box.

e.g. Claims up to £5,000 = Small Claims Track

  • Please bare in mind that claims marginally over £5,000 should still be directed to Small Claims Track - the judge would have the final decision, so it's worth giving it a try..

ALSO - The claim figures mentioned above are calculated BEFORE interest and costs are added.

If you are claiming interest ABOVE 8% (i.e. the contractual rate on your credit card) then you MUST INCLUDE this figure in your total.

Section E - Trial or final hearing

How long do you estimate the trial or final hearing will take?

We could reasonably estimate that hearings like ours would last approximately 1 hour.

Simply write 1 in the HOUR section and leave the other fields blank.

Are there any days when you, an expert or an essential witness will not be able to attend court for the trial or final hearing?


You should enter only those dates when you, your expert(s) or essential witness(es) will not be able to attend court because of holiday or other commitments. Fill out any dates that you would NOT be able to attend a court

Section F - Proposed directions

Have you attached a list of the directions you think appropriate for the management of the claim?

Attach the list of directions, if any, you believe will be appropriate to be given for the management of the claim. Agreed directions on fast and multi-track cases should be based on the forms of standard directions set out in the practice direction to CPR Part 28 and form PF52. This might include a directive to force the defendant (bank) to comply with a Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act, or to include a direction that parties make Standard Disclosure.

It is possible that a Judge will refuse to give these directions, but at least you will have brought them to the Judge’s attention

We advise that you include with your AQ a suggested template for a Draft Direction Order

Section G - Costs

Do not complete this section if you have suggested your case is suitable for the small claims track or you have suggested one of the other tracks and you do not have a solicitor acting for you.

This speaks for itself - leave all fields BLANK unless you know differently

Section H - Other Information

Have you attached documents to this questionnaire?

Have you sent these documents to the other party(ies)?

If Yes, when did they receive them?

In the space below, set out any other information you consider will help the judge to manage the claim.

If you had previously failed to include a list of charges and their dates etc, this is your opportunity to do so. TICK the boxes most relevant to your own needs. Answer all the questions in this section. Decide if there is any other information you consider will help the judge to manage the claim. Give details in the space provided referring to any documents you have attached to support what you are saying.

You may wish to add reasons why the case is more suitable for Small Claims Track if your claim value exceeds £5,000 or provide reasoning why the Judge should make ‘directions’ that have been listed in Section F.

You might wish to include text similar to the following;

I am respectfully requesting that my claim be allocated to the small claims track. This issue is not a complicated one; it is an issue of fact and not of law. The issue is only whether the money levied by the Defendant in respect of its customer’s contractual breaches exceed their actual costs incurred. I am happy to pay their actual costs and I am surprised the Defendant did not counterclaim for these, because I would have paid them without argument.

However, the continuing problem is (in common with the 100s of other cases currently being brought by other bank customers) that the banks refuse to reveal the details of their penalty-charging regime. As the banks have a fiduciary duty towards their customers, they have a duty to deal straightforwardly and in utmost good faith.

Accordingly, I would respectfully ask that the court in this case, not withstanding allocation to the small claims track, order standard disclosure. I understand that it is in the courts discretion to do so. I believe this would bring a rapid end to this litigation.



NOTE: If you are attaching the draft order you should leave out the bit in red above.


Related Pages

Draft Direction Order

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