The Ministry of Justice has published its latest quarterly figures and these unfortunately show that for complex and larger claims, the time for civil court trials to begin has increased to nearly 18 months – the longest wait time this century.
The latest reported figures are for July to September in 2022, and they state that fast-track and multi-track claims are now taking over 75 weeks to come to trial, following the issuing of proceedings. The figures show that the wait time to trial has increased by 4.8 weeks, when compared with the same July to September period in 2021.
This is despite the number of civil court actions remaining below pre-pandemic levels, and the number of county court claims reducing when compared with the same period in 2021 and 2020.
The situation is better for small claims (those below £10,000), but even these are taking the best part of a year to come to trial.
The Ministry of Justice has sought to explain the figures, pointing to complex claims being delayed through the COVID period, and therefore having an effect on the reported times in 2022.
However, Matthew Maxwell Scott, executive director of the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO), has said: “Although the report cites the number of cases stayed during the pandemic as the reason for the delays, this cannot be the only reason for such a broken system. We should be seeing improvements in access to justice for citizens now that we are nearly three years on from the start of the pandemic.”
James Burgoyne of Brunel Professions flagged concerns from the professional indemnity insurance perspective: “Having to wait around 18 months for a dispute to come to court only adds to disruption for professional firms. It ties up senior management time which could be better spent on client servicing and may have significant financial implications in prolonging the impact on professional indemnity insurance, continuing legal costs and awaiting a decision on damages.”
The figures published by the Ministry of Justice can be found in their Civil Justice Statistics Quarterly. The comments by ACSO can be found here.
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