How to start a case in the Queen’s Bench, part of the High Court which deals with claims such as personal injury, libel and contract law.
Cases dealt with by the court
The Queen’s Bench Division deals with cases involving:
- personal injury
- clinical negligence
- professional negligence
- breach of contract
- human rights
- libel, slander and defamation
- torts (wrongful acts harming another person)
- unpaid debt
Some of these cases can also be heard in the Chancery Division.
The Queen’s Bench Division usually handles:
- larger and more complex cases worth over £100,000
- personal injury and clinical negligence cases worth £50,000 or more
- defamation cases worth any amount
You can also use the court for bail applications, bills of sale, deed poll name changes, election petitions, evidence and judgments from foreign courts, serving documents overseas and writs to seize goods or possess property.
Hearings usually take place in the Royal Courts of Justice in London but can also be held in local courts called district registries around England and Wales.
Read the Queen’s Bench guide for details of how to use the court.
Before you start
Think carefully before you start a case, and try to settle the dispute out of court if you can.
Bringing a case can be complex, expensive and time-consuming.
You will be asked to produce and share large numbers of documents and may have to pay for a number of hearings before the final trial.
You’ll probably need legal help on your options, the paperwork or presenting your case.
If you lose your case, you will usually have to pay the other side’s costs. These can be high, especially if solicitors and barristers are involved and you need reports from experts like doctors or accountants.
Help and support
You can get help and advice from a solicitor or barrister.
You may also be able to get free help from:
Court staff can explain how the process works but can’t give you legal advice.
There are strict time limits for starting a case, which are usually as follows:
|Type of case||Time limit|
|Human rights||1 year|
|Personal injury||3 years|
Check with a lawyer if you’re unsure about how much time you’ve got to start a claim.
Start a court case
To start a case, fill in the relevant form below:
You’ll need to use the part 7 form for most types of claim.
Use the part 8 form if the main facts aren’t in dispute (for example, if you want a declaration on a legal point which will determine how a contract will be interpreted).
Pay the court fee
You will need to pay a court fee to start the case. This will be based on how much you want to claim from the other side.
The fee for starting a case is:
- 5% of the amount for claims worth between £10,000 and £200,000
- £10,000 for claims worth more than £200,000
See the list of civil court fees for details of all the claim fees.
You can pay with cash, a credit/debit card, or a postal order or cheque (paid to ‘HM Courts & Tribunals Service’).
You may have to pay another £1,090 fee for a trial later on, and extra fees for any interim hearings, court orders or injunctions.
How to get your documents to the court
You can file your documents electronically. This online service also enables you to search cases, order copies of documents and pay fees.
Or, you can take or send the form to the court:
QB Issues and Enquiries
Royal Courts of Justice
Telephone: 020 7947 7772
You’ll need to bring along your own copy, a copy for the court and one copy for each of the defendants in the case.
Serve the form on the defendant
The court will stamp the copies of your claim form.
Give or send a copy to the person or company who will be defending the claim, known as the defendant.
You must also give them:
- an acknowledgment of service form
- the relevant admission and defence forms (see table below)
- details of your case, known as the particulars of claim
|Type of form||Fixed sum||Unspecified amount|
The particulars document should include the arguments and facts in support of your case.
You can provide the particulars when you serve the forms or within the next 14 days.
Send the court a certificate of service to confirm you’ve sent the documents.
Find out more about how to serve the form.
After you serve the form
The defendant has 14 days to acknowledge the claim. If they do this, they can ask for more time to respond.
They have 28 days to respond to the claim once you’ve given them both the claim form and the particulars.
If they don’t respond you may be able to ask the court to make a judgment in your favour, using:
Getting ready for the trial
If the case is defended, the court will ask you for more information on how you want the case to be managed.
You will usually have to go to a case management conference to agree the next steps.
This will include agreeing a date for the trial, and a timetable for producing expert reports and preparing and sharing evidence.
Applying for court orders before the trial
You may need to apply for a court order or injunction before the final trial, for instance to freeze assets or stop someone disclosing confidential information.
Use the relevant Queen’s Bench forms to apply.
Applications are handled by High Court Masters.
You may have to go to a hearing, where a High Court Judge will decide whether to grant you the order or injunction.
Read the guide to interim applications court for more details.
Cases are usually heard by a High Court Judge in the Royal Courts of Justice or a Circuit Judge outside London.
There may also be a jury if your case involves libel, defamation or slander.
Both sides will have the chance to:
- make opening and closing statements
- call expert witnesses (if you’ve received prior permission from the court)
- present expert reports
- question the witnesses
The courtroom will usually be open to the public.
In most cases you won’t find out the decision on the final day of the trial.
The court will usually send you a copy of the draft judgment afterwards, to check for typos or other textual errors.
The judge will then issue the judgment.
If you disagree with the decision
If you disagree with the decision, you can ask the court for permission to appeal.
If you’re turned down you can still apply to the higher court for permission.
Find out more about using the Court of Appeal.
The other side can also appeal if you win your case.
Claiming back legal costs
You may be able to claim back these costs if you win, but you could be made to pay the defendant’s costs if you lose.
The judge will take into account how both sides acted during the case before deciding to allow or award costs.
The court’s decisions on earlier cases are published on the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) website.
Legislation and rules
You can find detailed rules on using the court in the Civil Procedure Rules and Practice Directions.