The Justice Committee has launched an inquiry into the work of county courts amid long-standing concerns over court capacity and resources.
After the government announced last week that it would delay scrapping Section 21 until problems with the courts had been fixed, the Commons select committee is to consider topics including the use of technology and how it could be used to improve court services, whether there is sufficient judicial capacity and the level of fees and approach to costs.
It says 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 than the same period in 2022.
Paul Shamplina, chief commercial officer at Hamilton Fraser and founder of Landlord Action (pictured), says UK court delays for landlords trying to gain possession of their property are the worst he’s ever seen during his legal career within the PRS. He tells LandlordZONE that efficiency is needed more than ever as landlords want confidence in the court system if Section 21 is to be abolished. “These problems have been building up for years,” says Shamplina.
“Court waiting times are longer, there’s a shortage of judges and a lot of courts are falling down. There also needs to be more user-friendly tech and more bailiffs to address the dire shortages.”
Paul Sowerbutts, head of legal at Landlord Action, adds: “At Willesden County Court a request for a bailiff was made in December 2022, with the appointment only being set on 28th July, while at Central London County Court, clients are waiting six months and at Brentford County Court, it’s four months.”
Committee chair, Sir Bob Neill, says claims data shows the situation is worsening not improving. He adds: “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.”
The committee is inviting written evidence until 14th December, here.