The Ministry of Justice has recently carried out a consultation proposing significant changes to the County Court system. The judiciary and Lord Justice Jackson have responded to the Ministry's proposals as follows:
- The judiciary has supported the Ministry's suggestions to use electronic channels to issue claims and to automatically refer small claims to a court-based mediator, and agrees that there is a need to improve speed and efficiency when it comes to enforcement. However it has called into question how efficient the introduction of compulsory alternative dispute resolution would be.
- Similarly, Lord Justice Jackson has questioned compulsory mediation as well as the Ministry's idea of mandatory pre-action directions for money claims under £100,000. He is in support of a mediation information pack being sent to the parties in every case, one single authoritative mediation handbook and an accreditation scheme for mediators.
The Ministry will respond to the consultation at the end of October.