The Ministry of Justice has published its annual report of statistics on judicial and court activity in England and Wales. The report shows that during 2006 there was a significant increase in the number of proceedings issued in the High Court. Key findings are as follows:

  • A 20% increase in the number of claims and originating proceedings issued in the Queen's Bench Division (from 15,317 to 18,364).
  • A 27% increase in the total number of proceedings started in the Chancery Division (from 34,125 to 43,327).
  • The Chancery Division statistics include a 54% increase in Companies Court proceedings (from 15,079 to 23,215).
  • The total number of bankruptcy orders made increased by 14% (from 7,206 to 8,206).
  • Enforcement proceedings issued in the Queen's Bench Division in London increased by 5% (to 12,385) and outside London increased by 42% (to 34,734). Writs of fi-fa accounted for almost all enforcement proceedings.

The 2006 report has been significantly revised and expanded from previous issues. It comprises 187 pages and includes tables showing trends over time. The significant increase in claims in both the Queen's Bench and Chancery Divisions is interesting. However it remains to be seen whether this is a continuing trend or whether there were particular reasons for the increase in the numbers of claims issued in 2006. Neverthless the statistics suggest that litigation is on the rise and the current economic climate may well mean that parties are more ready to turn to litigation in the coming year.

The report is available on the Ministry of Justice website at  http://www.justice.gov.uk/docs/judicial-court-stats-2006-tag.pdf.