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Minster Law solicitor John Cuss comments on the publication of the Civil Justice Quarterly statistics

The latest civil justice quarterly statistics covering April to June 2020 were published by The Ministry of Justice last week.

The headline is of course that a significant decrease in all types of civil justice actions has occurred throughout April to June 2020 with, as the publication states, “figures dropping to unprecedentedly low levels” linked to Covid-19 related measures taken by HMCTS.”

In April to June 2020, County Court claims are said to be down 75% on the same period in 2019.

Of note is that a reduction in unspecified money claims was driven by a 42% reduction in personal injury claims.

As well as giving vital transparency as to the number of claims being issued, the quarterly statistics also provide very useful information on the mean time taken for claims to reach trial.

For small claims, the mean time taken was 41.8 weeks which is 5.2 weeks longer than the mean for the same quarter in 2019.

For fast track and multi-track matters, the mean was 61.9 weeks which is 2.9 weeks longer than the same period in 2019.

Justice delayed can often of course be perceived as justice denied.

Probably the greatest challenge for the pandemic and the resulting period of remote justice is the trial hearing and it is therefore not surprising, coupled with reduced court resources, that in the April to June quarter, the number of trials was down 72% compared to the same period in the year prior.

The Covid-19 pandemic has of course presented huge challenges for the courts in respect of keeping the wheels of justice turning.

What is clear for anyone that works in the civil justice sector, however, is that long before even the first reported cases of Coronavirus in the UK, the civil justice system was cracking, and a backlog was already developing.

Backlogs and delay in the justice system risk undermining access to justice and Minster Law as part of the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) remain committed to working alongside stakeholders to help tackle these issues and develop working solutions.

John Cuss on behalf of Minster Law has contributed to ACSO’s submissions to the House of Commons Justice Committee’s call for evidence on court capacity in which proposals have been put forward to help tackle the backlog in civil justice. These responses will be shared once the call for evidence has been completed and the evidence collated published by the Committee.

In the interim, you can read further as to how Minster Law have maintained business continuity throughout the Covid-19 pandemic here.