The IPEC Small Claims Track in England and Wales

Author: Sheona Burrow (University of Glasgow)

This paper, by closely examining empirical data from the IPEC Small Claims Track, sheds light on the workings of one of the newest courts in England and Wales, which has opened up a unique opportunity for sole traders and SMEs to litigate copyright claims. Following from the Jackson Review in 2009, which found that there was an unmet need for justice for creative SMEs, the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court Small Claims Track was established in 2012. This created a forum for copyright, trade mark, passing off and unregistered design claims valued at less than £10,000 in England and Wales. Building on litigation studies from the UK and beyond, the author has gained access to court files from the IPEC Small Claims Track. This paper will examine empirical data sourced from case files from the first two years of cases and paint a picture of the type of claims brought, the type of litigants using the court, and the outcomes for these types of cases. This paper will then go on to consider whether the IPEC Small Claims Track has attracted the types of claimants considered in the policy literature and consider whether there was an unmet need for justice. In particular, this paper will consider the potential implications for the creative industries of providing a forum for freelance photographers to litigate their copyright infringement claims.

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