The period April to June 2017 has seen a sharp increase in the number of claims issued in the County Court, specifically the number of debt recovery claims. This raises a number of questions about how legal practitioners can ensure they provide tactical and strategic advice to their clients in an increasingly stretched court system.
On 7 September 2017, the Ministry of Justice published quarterly civil court statistics for the period April to June 2017. Statistics on the County Court civil (non-family) cases and the judicial review cases that took place during that period show:
- 565,000 County Court claims were lodged during this quarter, the highest number since 2009. Of these, 457,000 were specified money claims (up 54% the same quarter in 2016).
- Unspecified money claims decreased for both personal injury (down 4% to 33,000) and other unspecified money claims (down 19% to 1,800).
- 72,000 claims were defended; 12.74%.
- 14,000 went to trial; 2.48%.
- The average time taken for small claims increased to 37.8 weeks, over six weeks longer than the same period in 2016. Multi-track and fast track claims increased to 56.6 weeks (three weeks longer than April to June 2016).
- 372,000 judgments were made, of which 87% were default judgments (up 48% on the same quarter in 2016).
- There were 2,200 judicial reviews in the first half of 2017. Of the 1,300 cases that reached the permission stage, 225 (18%) were found to "totally without merit".
Brendan Udokoro, Trainee Solicitor, Defended Litigation team
It has never been more critical to have legal experts managing your claims. The continued increasing burden on courts’ resources places a greater emphasis on the need for legal professionals to adopt strategies to ensure claims are not delayed and costs wasted. Coupled with the new Pre-Action Protocol coming into force on 1 October 2017, it has never been more vital to engage earlier with debtors to employ a strategic, thorough, expert led approach to debt recovery.
As courts’ resources become ever more stretched, the role of the Smalls Claims Mediation Service will become increasingly advantageous to creditors as a way to settle claims at an earlier stage of the court process.
The Litigation team at Judge & Priestley can assist you in providing a tactical approach to recovering your debts to ensure you are not held up in court delays. If you would like to speak with a member of the team, please contact our Business Development Manager Andrew Lloyd on 0208 290 7096.
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