Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence

Judges to hand over administrative applications to “legal advisors”

Court-service-logoWhen the County Court Money Claims Centre (‘CCMCC’) was launched in 2012, it was designed to streamline the process of filing money claims in the County Courts and took away the burden of “setting up” claims from the District Judges elsewhere in England and Wales, allowing them to focus on case management and issues of law.

Sadly, upon its launch the CCMCC was understaffed, over utilised and a source of headache for lawyers wanting certainty that claims and pleadings being filed were being addressed on time.  Over the years the system has settled down, but the District Judges at the CCMCC in Salford are still required to make thousands of administrative decisions each day.

A pilot scheme has now been announced, to commence in October 2015, whereby routine administrative applications will be dealt with by legal advisors, leaving the more complicated matters to District Judges who will then hopefully find themselves with a more manageable workload.

Under the pilot scheme which will run for a year, Legal Advisors will be tasked with deciding basic procedural applications, such as:

  • Rectification under Rule 3.10;
  • Extensions of time for Service;
  • Amendments to Particulars of Claim where a Defence has not yet been filed;
  • Applications to vary or set aside Default Judgment (by consent);
  • Application to make a Counterclaim after a Defence has been filed;
  • Applications to remove or extend stays (by consent).

A full list of the powers given to the advisors are found in the relevant Civil Procedure Rules Practice Direction and all have conditions attached in addition to those outlined above.

Legal Advisors will therefore have the power to deal with the most routine and straightforward of applications, but ones that are likely to account for a high proportion of applications received. Anything requiring a hearing will be reserved to a District Judge, and parties have the right to have an Order made by a Legal Advisor reviewed by a District Judge (without a hearing), provided a request is filed within 14 days of notification of the Order.

Lawyers will be interested to see whether or not the response times for such applications are improved as a result of this measure.