Is justice delayed, justice denied?
Posted on 12th December 2019
This year the trend that has now become part of the court system of England and Wales, got even worse. In 2019, as a result of more and more County Court cases being defended, the delays faced by litigants, and of particular importance to this local firm of personal injury solicitors, those claiming for personal injury, have reached a 10- year high.
The reasons behind the delays are, actually, two-fold: more and more claims are defended, and more and more courts are being closed, with a centralised, leaner court system in place. Despite campaigns against the same, 90 county courts have closed down since 2010.
The delays cannot be blamed on Personal Injury claimants either: Personal injury claims are actually down another 5% in 2019, to 29,000.00 in the 3 - month period, from July to September. It would appear that the those injured are receiving settlements outside, and prior to litigation, or that fewer personal injury claims are being made.
As the title of this blog illustrates, or at least attempts to, the lack of courts is crippling the justice system, and allowing claims to stagnate. The writer is aware of one personal injury solicitor who has just received notice of a trial date for their injured client, for January 2021. The knock-on effects of this is that, with no real threat of imminent trial, in personal injury cases, Defendants are not making any offers until months into litigation. And with the MOJ’s fixed costs regime in place, for low value personal injury claims, the same, offering more costs for the claimant, at progressing stages of the litigation process, why would the Defendant rush to settle? There is no sword of Damocles hanging over the Defendant to settle early; this intrinsically clogs up the court process, and the wheels turn even slower.
From July-September 2019, figures show that, of the claims defended 54% had legal representation for both the Claimant and Defendant. 27% had representation for the Claimant only, and 3% for Defendant only.
The solution? As with most things, that comes down to money. Statistics show that 8% more claims were defended in 2019, than in 2018-that’s an increase of 80,000. 17% of claims, many of which were personal injury claims, went all the way to Trial- 17% may not sound like a huge amount, but this is up 14% from the same period in 2018. And why is the solution money? Well, personal injury solicitors now receive fixed costs for attending any Fast Track or Multi Track personal injury trial. Once of a day, Defendant’s settled prior to Trial as there was the fear of dramatically increased costs for Defending a matter at Trial, and losing. Well, now, there isn’t. Personal injury costs have been depleted to a minimal amount, and Defendants are trying their luck, with little cost consequences should they lose. Add to this the court closures, again related to funding, and there’s your answer.
With the introduction of the Civil Liability Act 2018, more and more litigants in person are to bring claims. As laypeople, they will be unaware of the court process, unprepared for court hearings, and delays will no doubt be incurred.
2020 will be an interesting year, and one which may see the depleting number of local personal injury solicitors gain a few more grey hairs with worry.
But it’s still 2019. And it’s Christmas. So we’ll leave on a high, and discuss with another blog in the new year.
MG Legal- Your Local Solicitors
Tagged as: Accident Injury Solicitors, Personal Injury Law, Solicitors in Lancaster, Your Local Solicitors
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