Civil Justice Council calls for improved procedure for claims under £500
The Civil Justice Council has published its final report of 2021 on the resolution of small claims. It recommends mandatory mediation for claims under £500 to be provided by a telephone service that is free of charge to the user. The CJC also wants to educate more people about the mediation process.
The working party makes a number of recommendations which it hopes will help to improve the management and resolution of the more than one million small claims which are commenced in the County Court each year.
Data provided to the working group showed that around 50% of small claims issued between March 2018 and April 2021 were for a value of £500 or less, leading the working group to suggest a more proportionate process for lower value claims.
The Civil Procedure Rule Committee is asked to introduce a specific pre-action protocol for claims under £500 and to amend its rules to allow the Court to determine cases by telephone/remote hearing or on the papers, where appropriate.
Other recommendations call on HMCTS to consider the information available to litigants before they make a claim and once initiated, including the production of short videos to improve public understanding of the small claims process and the options available to litigants. In relation to mediation, HMCTS is asked to produce improved information to educate litigants and to conduct further research as to why parties opt out of mediation.