Increase in Small Claims limit and other changes on the Horizon

31 March 2022

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On 4th February 2021 the Department of Justice launched a 12 week public consultation on increasing the general civil jurisdiction of the County Court.The consultation closed on 30th April 2021 and a summary of the consultation responses and proposed next steps was published on 23rd November 2021, which can be accessed via the link below:

(https://www.justice-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/justice/county-court-jurisdiction-consultation%20response.pdf)

A working group is to be established to consider the practical implementation of some of the key issues arising from the consultation, namely:-

  • Increasing the monetary jurisdiction of the County Court from £30,000 to £60,000 with an increase in the District Judge’s jurisdiction from £10,000 to £20,000 (as recommended by the Gillen Review);
  • Maintaining the current County Court limit of £30,000 for clinical negligence claims only;
  • Whether County Court Judges and District Judges should have statutory powers to remove cases from the County Court to the High Court; and
  • Whether the general civil jurisdiction in respect of defamation cases should be increased and if so, to what level;

It is of note that following the consultation the monetary jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court has increased from £3,000 to £5,000 and was granted approval on 25th March 2022.The change in the monetary limit of the Small Claims Court is set to take effect from 3rd October 2022.

Although there is a £2,000 increase in the monetary limit for the Small Claims Court, it remains the case that road traffic accident claims and personal injury claims are not to be included in the Small Claims procedure.It was felt that such cases are likely to involve additional administration and judicial resources and are expected to require legal representation which goes against the essence of the Small Claims forum which is designed to be highly informal and accessible.

The increase in the Small Claims limit will lead to a slight reduction in the number of lower value claims being issued in the County Court (not including road traffic accident claims and personal injury claims) and in turn will lead to a quicker, more cost effective resolution of such claims.

If you would like any further information on the issues raised in this article, please contact Enya McKenna or a member of our Defence Insurance Litigation team.

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