HCR Law Events

6 December 2023

Civil court claims delays – everything you need to know and do

Civil court claims have been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons, with delays in listing of trial dates reaching 18 months.

Judges in England and Wales categorise claims based on value and complexity:

  • Small claims – generally smaller, less complex claims up to £10,000 (with some exceptions)
  • Fast track – claims of between £10,000 and £25,000
  • Multi track – more complicated claims with a value over £25,000

Figures from the Ministry of Justice for Q1 of 2023 show delays across all types of civil claims. Particularly affected were ‘multi track’ and ‘fast track’ claims which often took more than 18 months to reach trial. Even small claims, which on the face of it might be simpler to resolve, are taking a year.

How does this affect you?

The South East is hardest hit, with cases taking an average of 462 days to get to court. The implications of this on claimants are significant, with individuals and businesses often feeling that their lives and businesses are on hold or overshadowed on a day-to-day basis until the hearing takes place. There can also be financial implications while they wait for their claim to be resolved.

Why is it happening?

There is no one clear reason for the lag in claims, rather a combination of factors including insufficient judges and court staff, an increase in money claims and underinvestment in the system generally. There is undoubtedly also still a backlog relating to COVID, when severe delays were experienced due to restrictions. Changes from within the legal system itself are only compounding the situation. An increase in urgent family law cases and more individuals representing themselves due to cuts to legal aid are leading to civil claims cases being postponed and hearings being listed for months away.

If you are considering a civil claim, understanding the process and timescale, as well as alternative dispute resolution options are crucial.

So how can I help?

Talk to me as soon as possible

The quicker I can assess the situation and come up with a strategy, the more successful your case is likely to be

Make sure I have all the information (and I mean everything!)

It sounds dramatic but even the smallest detail might be the difference between winning or losing your claim

Highly experienced and qualified in both the UK and Australia, I intervene as early as possible to resolve disputes and avoid them becoming more costly and stressful that they need to be. As part of the rapidly expanding team in the Thames Valley office, I use my dispute resolution skills to help both businesses and individuals. I also specialise in Defence and Security disputes, a niche sector which requires acute attention to detail.

I’m firmly in your corner from the off and you can always expect an honest and proactive approach. No jargon, no false promises but a desire to resolve the matter as swiftly and effectively as possible. You’ll want us on your side.

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About the Author
Claire Holford, Partner, and Acting Head of Defence & Security

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