The House of Commons Justice Select Committee is set to launch an enquiry into the record delays in the county courts in England and Wales.
Matthew Maxwell Scott, executive director of ACSO (the Association of Consumer Support Organisations) explained that the latest official data shows that claimants are waiting 52.3 weeks and 78.2 weeks respectively to get small claims and multi/fast track claims to trial. This is in spite of falling claims volumes in areas such as personal injury. Whilst covid did have an impact, the problems pre-date the pandemic. Previously waits were 37.2 weeks for small claims and 59.4 weeks for multi/fast track claims.
Matthew Maxwell Scott went on to say:
“It’s good that the committee has again responded to our pleas for an independent inquiry into one of the major issues facing civil justice. 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.”
“Research we have done with law firm Express Solicitors also reveals a ‘postcode lottery’ for consumers seeking justice, with average waits at 353 days but the variance from 251 days in the best-performing areas to an extraordinary 462 days in the worst.
“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 steppingstone to a full-scale commission on civil justice with the needs of consumers as its heart.”