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Civil Justice Statistics Quarterly, England and Wales, July to September 2018 (provisional)

Generally, County Court claims have been increasing, with money claims rising by 21% in 2016/17 and a further 12% in 2017/18. This has led to an increase in the number of cases proceeding to a full hearing and coupled with shortages in civil judicial resources, there has been an adverse impact on the timeliness of cases being determined. Many judges who sit in the County Court also sit in the Family Court, which has its own pressures. A shortage of fee-paid judges has added to the difficulties. Significant recruitment of Recorders to sit in Civil, and of Deputy District Judges, is underway.
Judges have been balancing the pressures resulting from business as usual demands with helping to support and design reforms to the civil courts and wider civil justice system. The civil judiciary have been playing a critical role in the development of Online Civil Money Claims, which has produced encouraging early results in terms of take-up, accessibility and user satisfaction levels.

So essentially the Courts are overstretched. So mediation has to be a better way to proceed.

Main points

In July to September 2018, the number of County Court claims and judgments actually decreased against the same quarter of 2017.

Other stages of county court activity (defences, allocations, trials) increased across this period, continuing the overall increasing trend seen since April to June 2015.

Decrease in County Court claims driven by specified money claims

Unspecified money claims were down 19% to 32,400

The number of claims defended and gone to trial have increased. The average time taken from claim to hearing has increased for small claims
Average time taken from claim to hearing is unchanged for fast/multi track claims.

Judgments decreased 11% compared to same quarter in 2017

18,900 enforcement orders and 119,000 warrants were issued

Number of judicial review applications down 21%
In July to September 2018, County Court claims decreased by 8% to 513,000. Of these, 411,000 were specified money claims (down 8% on the same period in 2017).

The decrease in unspecified money claims was driven by a decrease in Personal Injury (down 20% to 30,500).

There were 75,600 claims defended and 15,200 claims that had gone to trial in July to September 2018, up 1% and 5% respectively.

Average time taken for small claims to go to trial took 35 weeks up 3 weeks compared to the same period in 2017 respectively.
However, multi/fast track claims remained stable at 56.5 weeks, and average time taken remains in line with range seen since 2011.
Judgments decreased in July to September 2018 to 315,000 when compared to the same period in 2017; the proportion that were default judgments increased by 2 percentage points to 89%.
Enforcement orders fell by 16%, driven by a fall in charging orders (down 20%).
However, warrants issued increased by 23%, driven by warrants of control (up 33%).
There were 2,700 Judicial Reviews in the first three quarters of 2018. Of the 1,800 cases that reached the permission stage, 230 (13%) were found to be ‘totally without merit’.

HMCTS will be conducting a small scale video testing pilot in Birmingham and Manchester Civil Justice Centres. The local CJCs will start identifying suitable cases in late December for video hearings to be listed in February 2019. The proposed scope of the hearings for these tests are applications to set aside default judgments in civil cases and first direction appointments for financial remedy in divorce where both parties are legally represented.

On 16 November 2018, HMCTS also announced that they would be conducting Flexible Operating Hours pilots in Manchester in some family and civil cases (see page 6 of the updated prospectus for more details). For the avoidance of doubt, as these pilots are serving to test different potential benefits they will not conflict; video hearing testing will take place with in normal court operating hours, HMCTS will not be offering video hearings within the FOH pilot.

Attached are local communications which will be sent out to local court user contacts and HMCTS will be advertising at each site a drop-in sessions for legal professional awareness: