How to start a case in the Chancery Division of the High Court, which deals with business, property, land, competition and probate disputes.
Applies to England and Wales
Cases dealt with by the court
The Chancery Division deals with disputes involving:
- business, property and land
- domestic and international trade
- UK and European competition law
- intellectual property issues
- partnership claims
- probate and whether a will is valid
It mainly handles large and complex business or property disputes worth over £100,000.
The court also handles appeals from certain decisions in other courts and tribunals.
Most cases heard in the Rolls Building in London, but they are sometimes dealt with in High Courts around the country – in chancery district registries.
Read the Chancery 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 legal costs.
Help and advice
You can get legal 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.
How to start a 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.
How to pay the court fee
You can pay:
- with cash
- by credit/debit card
- with 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:
Rolls Building in London
The Rolls Building
7 Rolls Buildings
- Birmingham Civil and Family Justice Centre
- Bristol Civil Justice Centre
- Cardiff Civil and Family Justice Centre
- Leeds Combined Court Centre
- Liverpool Civil and Family Court
- Manchester Civil and Family Justice Centre
- Newcastle Civil and Family Courts and Tribunals Centre
- Preston Combined Court Centre
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:
- a response pack
- details of your case, known as the particulars of claim
- written evidence to support your claim, such as witness statements
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 form N225.
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 selling property involved in a dispute.
Use the relevant Chancery forms to apply.
You may have to go to a hearing, where a special applications judge will decide whether to grant you the order or injunction.
Read the guide to interim applications in the Chancery Division for more details.
Cases are usually heard by a High Court Judge.
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.
Decisions on previous cases
The court’s decisions on closed cases are published on the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) website.
Rules and legislation
You can find detailed rules on using the court in the Civil Procedure Rules and Practice Directions.