Proposals to increase the monetary jurisdiction of the County Court

10 February 2021

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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 overall aim is to make the civil justice system faster, more convenient and more efficient by ensuring that cases are heard in the correct court setting taking into account the complexity and overall value of the case.

The current monetary jurisdiction of the County Court is £30,000 with District Judges hearing claims with a monetary value up to £10,000. The Small Claims Court deals with low value claims up to £3,000 (excluding personal injury claims, road traffic accident claims and defamation claims) and the monetary jurisdiction for defamation cases (encompassing libel and slander) is up to £3,000.

The following options have been proposed:

  1. An increase in the County Court jurisdiction to £60,000, with an increase in District Judges jurisdiction to £20,000 (as recommended by the Gillen Review); or
  2. An increase in the County Court jurisdiction to £100,000, with an increase in District Judges jurisdiction up to £35,000;

Responses are also invited on the following proposals:

  1. Increasing the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court to from £3,000 to £5,000;
  2. Increasing the jurisdiction of defamation cases from £3,000 to £10,000;
  3. Whether Clinical Negligence cases should be reserved as strictly High Court actions regardless of the potential level of damages or maintain the current upper limit of £30,000 for such cases;
  4. Whether County Court Judges should have a statutory power to remove cases from the County Courts to the High Courts (at present only the High Court has the power to deal with Remittal and Removal Applications).

If the proposed changes are introduced, this will result in the majority of civil claims being brought in the County Court with fewer claims being dealt with by High Court Judges. The High Court will be reserved solely for cases which require the procedural complexity of High Court proceedings and the attention of High Court Judges. There is, however, a concern that the changes to the financial limit could overburden the County Court system and in return slow down the progress of proceedings.

Such changes will result in more certainty in terms of costs, particularly in higher value claims, and will require the implementation of an updated statutory scale for County Court costs.

The consultation will close 30th April 2021.

*This information is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute, nor should be regarded, as a substitute for taking legal advice that is tailored to your circumstances.

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