Disarray in the Courts has led to research confirming that Costs Case Management Conferences are being listed for next summer at the same time as a press release confirming that the County Court at Central London is piloting a scheme to speed up the multi-track process.
While this would appear to be the Courts attempting to address the speed of litigation issue it appears they may be seeing the trees without the wood.
The stories are featuring on The Law Society Gazette webiste and demonstrate the juxtaposition of opinions on the current litigation process.
While practitioners continue to manage client’s expectations throughout an extraordinarily lengthy directions timescale whether it be on the Small Claims Track or Multi-Track, the Court continues to look in directions other than those that would effect real change.
The Law Society Gazette reports …:
The Court system, we were told, was clogged up 5 years ago by the sheer volume of litigation being processed particularly in the field of RTA law. Despite this the implementation on 1st April 2013 of the Small Claims Track limit increasing to £10,000 has only sought to increase the volume of claims within the Court system.
The carrot of costs that previously encouraged settlement negotiations with Defendant Solicitors was removed on a staggering amount of litigated matters. Without this carrot there is a lack of any justification for Defendants to deal with Claimant’s at an earlier stage during litigation. Tactically, we have seen 18 months of Defendant Solicitors specifically drawing the process of litigation out towards Trial in order to test the determination of a Claimant to attend and seek recovery.
We are in the infancy of Multi-track costs budgetting and the Courts have already confirmed that Judges are not as conversant with this process as was hoped. Despite this the Courts wish to further alter the procedure that is clearly taking longer than expected to become understood.
At this time the Court’s focus is on trying to resolve their time problems from the top down rather than the correct approach of correcting the procedure from the bottom upwards. As was the case when the small claims limit was increased my opinion on the matter is that allowing Part 36 offers to be relevant for small claims matters following both parties being represented by Solicitors continues to offer a solution to an ongoing, yet unaddressed, problem.