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Courts continue to face huge delays
Many court users continue to face a backlog, meaning their personal injury claim being delayed. Unfortunately it is expected the backlog of current court cases could continue into 2022.
During the pandemic, Courts were shut for a long period of time, pushing schedules further back. When social distancing was in place courtrooms had lower capacity and limits were placed on how long people could be within an enclosed space.
On average it takes 49 weeks to get a small claim matter from issue to trial and 71 weeks for larger claims. This has reduced slightly from the position at the start of the year but is still a concern for many personal injury solicitors. It is expected that the delays in the small claims court will get worse with the introduction of the Whiplash Reforms.
The figures give a sense of the impact of the pandemic on an already stretched judicial system. It is not only personal injury claims that face huge delays but also debt recovery claims, employment disputes, family and criminal matters.
A new survey of court users by the High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA), has found that 86% of court users reported experiencing delays when using the County Court, with many citing they have stopped trying to recover some debts altogether.
In criminal matters, recent statistics show that there were 60,692 outstanding cases in the Crown court at the end of June, up from 59,942 between January to March. The backlog has steadily been rising since the early months of 2019, when it stood at 33,290.
Dominic Rabb, justice secretary said: ‘It is unacceptable that many victims are having to wait so long to seek justice. The pandemic put unprecedented constraint on our ability to hold jury trials, but we have made strong progress in the magistrates’ courts to reduce the number of outstanding cases. With new super court rooms, the extension of the Nightingale Courts into 2022 and limit-free sitting days in crown courts, we will restore the swift access to justice that victims deserve.’
Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said members were facing problems with how cases are listed, the lack of consultation with lawyers in relation to listing, and difficulties getting in contact with courts when there is a listing problem.
While there has been progress in the family and civil courts there was 52,056 family private law matters outstanding in April 2021.
At Aston Knight solicitors we have worked hard throughout the pandemic to ensure delays are minimised and hopefully with the restrictions lifted the backlog will reduce over time but court users must be warned a backlog does exist and the life cycle of a claim is now taking longer.