One week on from dramatic announcements by the Chancellor of changes to the small claims track limit and of removing entitlement to general damages in low value soft tissue claims, is any of the detail around these proposals any clearer? Do we know more now about how and when the Government is going to act and what the impact of the measures will be?
Earlier this afternoon, the Chancellor brought to an end speculation about whether funds for radical technology-driven reform to the court service would be made available. He confirmed that £700 million of the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) spending settlement would be allocated to this project, saying that “the Lord Chancellor has worked with the Lord Chief Justice and others to put forward a typically bold and radical plan to transform our courts so they are fit for the modern age.”
The flip side of this positive news – which BLM has been anticipating for several weeks – is that under-used courts will certainly close and, according to today’s announcement from the MoJ, it will continue to “look at changes to court fees”.
The detail of the nature of the change to court procedures and practices will only be clearer over the next few months. The project is very likely to require legislative support – possibly primary legislation as well as rule changes – and may well incorporate the findings of Lord Justice Briggs’ ongoing review of the fundamental structure of the civil courts in England and Wales. Continue reading