Final report into the structure of Civil Courts in England and Wales

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Lord Justice Briggs delivered its final report into the structure of Civil Courts in July 2016 (Civil Courts Structure Review: Final Report).

The report makes a series of recommendations intended to inform the current programme of wider court modernisation being undertaken by HM Courts and Tribunals Service. It also makes a number of recommendations on different aspects of the civil justice system, such as enforcement of court rulings, the structure of the courts and deployment of judges. One may note, in particular, the creation of an Online Court – a new court, designed to be used by people with minimum assistance from lawyers, with its own set of user-friendly rules. It is anticipated that it will eventually become the compulsory forum for resolving cases within its jurisdiction, and on inception should be dealing with straightforward money claims valued at up to £25,000.

Regarding enforcement of judgments and orders, LJ Briggs believes there should be a single court as the default court for the enforcement of the judgments and orders of all the civil courts (including the new Online Court). This should be the County Court, with the possibility to transfer appropriate enforcement issues to the High Court, and special provision for the enforcement of arbitration awards.  All enforcement procedures should be digitised, centralised and rationalised (on the problematic state of enforcement of judgements in England and Wales, see Considérations générales sur les saisies spéciales en Common Law : l'exemple du droit anglais, in "Les saisies spéciales‟, Y. Desdevises (ed.), Editions Juridiques et Techniques, March 2009, p.13, available here).

Regarding mediation, the idea is to re-establish a court-based out of hours private mediation service in some County Court hearing centres

In conclusion, Lord Justice Briggs comments: It is for others to decide which of the above recommendations should be implemented, and by what means.  In my view, if they are all substantially implemented, then the essentially high quality of the civil justice service provided by the courts of England and Wales will be greatly extended to a silent community to whom it is currently largely inaccessible, and both restored and protected against the weaknesses and threats which currently affect it.”

(Altalex, 12 December 2016. Article by Emmanuel Guinchard)

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