IPEC Small Claims moving to Manchester

The Presiding Judge of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (‘IPEC’) has issued a Practice Note that will result in claims filed in the Small Claims Track predominantly being managed and heard in Manchester.

The Small Claims Track of the IPEC provides a low-cost option for resolving straightforward intellectual property disputes through the courts, where the amount in dispute is no more than £10,000. Although the financial compensation that can be recovered is capped, the IPEC can award non-monetary remedies of substantial value to rights owners, including final injunctions and the delivery up or destruction of infringing products or other materials. This makes it particularly useful for smaller disputes involving trade marks, copyright, and unregistered design rights (claims involving patents, registered designs, or plant varieties cannot be brought on the Small Claims Track).

From 3 July 2023, claims filed in the Small Claims Track either online or in person in London will be transferred to the Manchester Civil Justice Centre and case managed by District Judges in Manchester. According to the Practice Note, it is anticipated that any trials in relation to these cases will be heard in person in Manchester or, where the parties agree, by video link.

Parties will have a right to apply to have a claim transferred from Manchester to any other court centre which hears IPEC Small Claims Track cases, which currently include London, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, and Newcastle.

According to the Practice Note, cases will, however, only be transferred for case management or trial in London if “there are good reasons to do so, where there is a need for a trial in person and potential difficulty in having a trial in Manchester”.

The Practice Note does not specify any criteria that need to be met for a claim to be transferred from Manchester to one of the other non-London court centres, so this should be more straight-forward.

Claims filed in person in any of the court centres other than London are not affected by the Practice Note and nor are claims filed before 3 July 2023.

The Small Claims Track is designed so that it can be used by parties without legal representation, and the ability of a successful party to recover legal fees is limited accordingly. Nonetheless, legal representatives can nonetheless provide valuable assistance in helping clients achieve a positive outcome.

With offices in various locations in the UK, including Bristol, London, and Manchester, Mewburn Ellis is well-placed to assist with claims on the IPEC Small Claims Track.