Reforms and Changes to civil procedure in April 2014
The Government has previously published a consultation with the view of reforming the civil justice system. This included a proposal to establish a single County Court with the full range of County Court jurisdiction.
This proposal has led to a change in legislation which came into force on 22 April 2014 (by way of the Crime and Courts Act 2013). It introduces the replacement of the local county courts with a single, unified county court system. References to specific county courts will change to a hearing centre and the County Court will have a single seal and identity to reflect its national jurisdiction. The County Court will not be able to deal with family proceedings, however, insolvency proceedings will remain unaffected by these changes.
All claims issued at the “CCMCC” or the Northampton County Court (which will be renamed “the County Court Business Centre”), will remain there to the point where a hearing or enforcement of a judgment is required.
This also coincides with some of the following consequential amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules:
- The threshold for High Court cases (except for personal injury claims) will be increased from £25,000 to £100,000;
- The County Court’s threshold for equity claims will increase from £30,000 to £350,000;
- The County Court will be given an unrestricted jurisdiction to grant freezing injunctions; and
- The statement of truth on Precedent H form will be amended. This will require confirmation that all costs are reasonable and proportionate for the client to incur. The current statement of truth only confirms that the future costs are a proper estimate of the reasonable and proportionate costs the client will incur.
Over the last few years the country court system has been slowly centralised. The intention of this reform is to create a system which will be more efficient and similar to how the High Court operates.
It remains to be seen whether these changes will speed up the process of trying to resolve disputes through the Courts or whether it will become less accessible for litigants in person, who could struggle to get the assistance they require from the Courts.