Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Why are we waiting...

Her Majesty's Delays Service Whenever I meet other solicitors at court the topic of conversation inevitably turns to delays in the Courts system. It seems everyone has a story (or several) to tell involving an absurd length of time that they have waited for the court to deal with some particular matter. Typical examples involve consent orders that have been with the court for months, or legal aid bills filed last year that still haven't been assessed. These delays can cause real hardship, not just for clients but also for cash-strapped legal aid firms waiting to be paid.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming the staff or judges - they are doing a hard job under difficult circumstances (although it is amusing how litigants and their solicitors are instantly penalised by the court for missing any time limit). The blame, as usual, lies with the government for not providing the resources needed to properly staff the courts, and things are only going to get worse, as mentioned in my post here. It seems that the government's answer is to impose draconian increases in court fees (as I have also mentioned previously), in an attempt to discourage people from using the courts.

So, it seems that we are either going to end up with a second-rate system, or we are going to have a system that is only available to those that can afford to use it - or perhaps we will end up with both. Or am I just being cynical?

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