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MoJ: Number of unrepresented parties in county court grows, while Commercial Court cases fall

Leeds County Court: lawyers becoming scarcer [1]

Leeds County Court: lawyers becoming scarcer

The number of defended non-family county court cases where both parties had legal representation fell in 2014, government figures have shown.

Meanwhile, in the High Court, the number of personal injury claims is increasing rapidly, but Commercial Court actions are declining.

Provisional figures from the Civil Justice Statistics Quarterly revealed that both claimant and defendant had legal representation in 62% of the 232,004 cases where there were defences in 2014, compared to 65% in 2013. Neither party was represented in 19% of cases, up from 17% in 2013.

Defences with either the claimant or defendant only represented were 15% and 4% respectively, compared with 13% and 4% in 2013.

The statistics highlighted considerable variation depending on the type of claim. While both parties were represented in 97% of unspecified money claims, the figure fell to 35% for specified money claims (with the claimant alone represented in a further 26% of such cases).

Neither party was represented in half of mortgage and landlord possession cases – and both sides had lawyers in just 16% of defences – while in other non-money claims, 61% of defences had lawyers on each side.

Changes to legal aid in April 2013 removed eligibility for some civil cases and the report said the government “will be carrying out further work to look in more detail at the emerging trends within these data”.

In the High Court, the statistics recorded that the number of personal injury claims issued at the Royal Courts of Justice jumped by more than half (53%) in 2014 to 1,449, while there was a 17% increase in clinical negligence claims issued, to 1,326.

At the same time, the Commercial Court saw a 19% fall in cases started in 2014, down to 1,085. Of these, 21% related to arbitration applications and appeals, and a further 20% to general commercial contracts and arrangements.

The Court of Appeal saw an 11% increase in applications, to 1,269.

The figures also showed a sharp spike in workload at the Senior Court Costs Office. It received 15,230 assessments in 2014, an increase of 23% on the previous year.

Of these, 47% were Court of Protection assessments, and 30% legal aid assessments.