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Court Delays - MPs launch probe into worsening problem

Just days after the government revealed it was not scrapping Section 21 until court possession processes had been overhauled, so the all-party Justice Select Committee has order a new inquiry into the workings of the County Court.

It comes as data on the work of the County Court shows the time taken from claim to hearing continues to rise.   

In its 2022 report, the cross-party committee of MPs called on the government to provide the “resources to ensure that the County Court has the capacity to deal with cases in a timely fashion”.   


The report also urged the government to set out what steps it is taking to reduce delays in the County Court and to improve the judicial, physical, digital and staff capacity of the County Court.

But the Civil Justice Statistics Quarterly for April to June 2023, published recently, shows the average time taken for small claims and multi/fast track claims to go to trial was 52.3 weeks and 78.2 weeks - one week longer and 2.8 weeks longer respectively, than the same period in 2022.

Compared to 2019, these measures are 15.7 weeks longer for small claims and 19.1 weeks longer for multi/fast track claims. 

In September this year the Association of Consumer Support Organisations started a new campaign to reduce delays in the civil justice system.  

During the inquiry, the Committee will take evidence from both claimant and defendant firms, a range of representative bodies and NGOs, plus the Civil Justice minister Lord Bellamy KC.

Chair of the Justice Committee, Sir Bob Neill MP, says: “The Justice Committee has held long-standing concerns over the resourcing and capacity of the County Court and made strong recommendations to this effect in its 2022 report.

“More than a year on, claims data shows the situation is worsening not improving and it’s right the Committee examines this deterioration and takes evidence from those impacted by delays, staffing levels, access, as well as other issues.

“The work of the County Court shouldn’t be the Cinderella of the justice system. It affects a significant proportion of the public, who rely on it to deliver justice. If it doesn’t have the resources it needs to function effectively then it will have a real impact on people’s lives, as well as on the economy.”

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    The court delays would not be very important in the private rental sector, if tenants who had been asked to leave had their choice of reasonably priced flats; they probably would be able to find a better flat than the one that they were renting.

    The problem has been made so serious by the impending legislation which is causing landlords to pull out. Reduce regulation of landlords, not increase it, and the problems will go.

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    The report is clearly yet another waste of taxpayers money, as the government fail to act on the findings.

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    • A JR
    • 03 November 2023 07:51 AM

    I doubt that the Gov have any intention in speeding up the court process. It’s in their interests to slow to the slowest trickle all evictions because, they have caused a crisis where there’s nowhere to go for rehousing. Inept the lot of them!

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    It's not just the Courts that are broken. Having had my win in Court to evict a tenant under Section 21, this was in late July the earliest the bailiffs came was 26th October! A lot of the tenants property is still in the house and I have to be reasonable to allow them to collect it!!
    It's a joke.
    And of course S21 was implemented as advised after no rent for 4 months. In the end they owe me 14 months arrears plus the 3 grand arrears they had from the Covid era.
    The one thing I am relieved about is that the house is in surprisingly good condition.


    council bailiffs are a waste of time


    My application for bailiff went in on 13th July and got a date of 2nd November (16 weeks) which was yesterday. The bailiff didn't turn up and left me and locksmith sat outside for 3.5 hours with no notification. It took a couple of hours ringing the court until someone picked up the phone and informed me that bailiff was not coming.
    Now got to wait for another appointment.


    pay the extra and up grade to high court they do the job properly

    Fery  Lavassani

    To get a High court sheriff first you will need to obtain leave from the district judge. Chances are very very low that you get the leave. Unless you can shaw that the bailiff cannot get the tenants out. Remember, bailiffs cannot force entry. So if the tenant decides not to answer the door, then the bailiff comes back empty handed. Then you got a good chance to get the leave. This process takes a lot more time and on average a high court sheriff costs three times more than a county court bailiff.


    Hi Andrew, I raised the issue of using a High Court Sheriff to my legal team. I was informed that it was not straightforward and I would have to do what Fery has commented on. In simple terms it is weighed against us again!
    I have to say that the bailiff I had was excellent, had phoned me the day before and explained the process, called me again the day of eviction letting me know he was running about 20 minutes late. I guess it is luck of the draw!
    Chris, sorry to hear your story, I hope that it gets resolved quickly.

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    Sorry M/s Edwards the court delays are very important to the landlord, they are the ones having to go with rent even if better properties were available down the street would the tenants move I think not they would prefer to sit in a house with no rent paid, why not when it free? (better or not)
    To make a statement that the court delays is not important is purely for the help of the tenants to make the landlord's life harder which is why when you come to need a new rental there will not be one there we will have all sold up and left the market, which I did a year ago, now getting 6% on the money.


    You are quite right that there are some tenants who would stay put and not pay rent even if they could rent somewhere better elsewhere at a cheaper price. There are some very dishonest tenants, of course.

    My point was that the majority of tenants would be prepared to leave if asked to do so, or at the end of a fixed term contract, or if they had spotted a better flat advertised, but now they can't find anywhere affordable to go because too many landlords are selling up because they don't want to lose control of their properties due to the impending legislation.

    You very probably did the right thing by selling up a year ago. You have a good return without any of the dreadful worry which happens when you have problem tenants.

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    Not being a lawyer or know much about the court system. It seems to me the court fees and costs are high, so shouldn't the court system actually make a profit? Or does any 'profit' just go into the general treasury, rather then improving the system?


    I don't know how they can justify their fees, for what is a dreadful service


    And when someone is convicted the fine will include court costs of a very low amount. Doesn't make sense.


    The Court system is in a complete mess, most are over paid and certainly have too high an opinion of themselves.
    The whole system needs an overhaul and in my view power corrupts!


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