Practice Direction 51ZC – ‘The Small Claims Paper Determination Pilot’

Published: 11/04/2022 | News

The 143rd Practice Direction Update has introduced a ‘Small Claims Paper Determination Pilot’, a procedure that will enable the court to direct that a small claim be determined without a hearing without requiring the agreement of the parties. This runs contrary to the current procedure in CPR 27.10 which does require such agreement.

The Pilot will commence on 1 June 2022 until 1 June 2024 and will apply to the County Courts at Cardiff, Bedford, Guildford, Luton and Manchester. It will not apply to existing proceedings.

Whether a case is suitable for determination without a hearing is a matter of judicial discretion to be exercised after the filing of the Directions Questionnaire (Form N180). A new Form N180 will be issued shortly and will include a section requiring the parties to indicate whether they consider the matter suitable for determination without a hearing and if not, why not. This determination will also take place without a hearing.

Paragraph 4.4 lists some examples of the types of cases which may be suitable for determination without a hearing:

a)   a claim for compensation for flight delay or denial of boarding pursuant to EU Regulation 261/2004 and/or The Air Passenger Rights and Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019;

b)   a claim arising out of the issuance of a parking ticket on private land; and

c)   any other claim of £1000 or less by value where there is no significant factual dispute which requires oral evidence, and the issues are not of such complexity as to require oral advocacy.

The Pilot will not apply to cases involving personal injury.[1]

The full Practice Direction update can be found here.


  •  With respect to (c) in particular it would seem that the judicial discretion to be exercised is a wide one.
  • The Pilot is likely to be of particular interest to practitioners of credit hire and other non-injury small claims litigation. When it comes into force, particular care should be made when completing the N180 and the court requested.
  • It remains to be seen whether the proposed changes are compatible with the parties’ Article 6 right to a fair trial. Indeed, there are already discussions regarding a potential judicial review challenge to the update.


Article by Pupil, Lewis Scott.


[1] Where the parties have followed the Pre-Action Protocol for Personal Injury Claims below the Small Claims Limit in Road Traffic Accidents and proceedings have been started under Practice Direction 27B.