Low value, road traffic accident personal injury claims worth between £1000 and £10,000 have a streamlined process. The Pre-Action Protocol prevents parties from incurring disproportionate costs. The Protocol involves a three-stage process in which stage 3 is a quantum hearing adopting the simplest procedure possible.
The recent case of Phillip v Willis  EWCA 401 clarifies the position a District Judge should make when directing a claim proceeding to the Stage 3 Procedure of the RTA Protocol process. CPR PD 8B provides for a claimant to issue a claim under CPR Pt 8, as was the position of Phillip v Willis. However the District Judge directed that the matter should be allocated to the small claims track and progress as a CPR Pt 7 claim.
The issue at appeal was whether the District Judge had power under CPR PD8B para 7.2 to direct that the proceedings continue as a CPR Pt 7 claim. This is an important issue particularly when the claim is not complex or lengthy. CPR Pt 8 are intended to be used in claims where there is not a substantial dispute of fact and there is no need for the complicated pleadings found in CPR Pt 7 claims. If a claim is directed to use a CPR Pt 7 in a simple RTA matter, it undervalues the Pre-Action Protocol.
The appeal was allowed. As no further evidence was necessary to resolve the issue in dispute then the directions would have entailed parties incurring ‘grossly’ disproportionate costs in respect of the damages at stake. The claim did not exit the RTA Protocol process as a consequence of the personal injury claim settling. As such the claim did not fall under PD8B para 7.2 and the District Judge had no power to direct that the claim proceed as a CPR Pt 7 claim, one allocated to the small claims track.
Jackson LJ held, obiter, that in circumstances where car hire charges are very high with complex issues of law or fact that, it would not be appropriate for proceedings to continue to a Stage 3 hearing.