County court delays face new inquiry


The Justice Committee has launched a new inquiry into County Court delays.

This comes after Civil Justice statistics revealed that between April to June the average time taken for small claims and multi/fast track claims to go to trial was 52.3 weeks and 78.2 weeks respectively.

This is one week and 2.8 weeks longer than the same period in 2022, and 15.7 and 19.1 weeks longer than in 2019.

Chair of the Justice Committee, Sir Bob Neill said, “The Justice Committee has held long-standing concerns over the resourcing and capacity of the County Court and made strong recommendations to this effect in its 2022 report. More than a year on, claims data shows the situation is worsening not improving and it’s right the Committee examines this deterioration and takes evidence from those impacted by delays, staffing levels, access, as well as other issues.

“The work of the County Court shouldn’t be the Cinderella of the justice system. It affects a significant proportion of the public. If it doesn’t have the resources it needs to function effectively then it will have a real impact on people’s lives.”

Meanwhile, Matthew Maxwell Scott, Executive Director of the Association of Consumer Support Organisations, said, “As with its ongoing work on the Civil Liability Act reforms, we trust the committee to look forensically at the problems faced and challenge the government to respond.

“Access to justice delayed is access to justice denied, and it is only right that the Justice Select Committee reminds ministers of this. Looking ahead, this inquiry should be a stepping stone to a full-scale commission on civil justice with the needs of consumers as its heart.”

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