Is civil recovery fit for purpose?
I’ve blogged before about the growing problem of unenforced judgments. Now the issue is in the headlines again.
A recent article in the Law Society Gazette claims the civil recovery regime in the UK is unfit for purpose.
According to the Civil Justice Council only around 60% of ‘small claims’ judgments (cases worth £10,000 or less) end with claimants receiving the full amount awarded by the courts.
Many people find the enforcement process just as complicated as the court case they have won, and that leads to a substantial percentage of successful claimants ending up settling for less than they have been awarded.
It is not just a UK problem, but it has been exacerbated in this country by legal aid no longer being available for civil claims.
To large organisations, missing out on a few thousand pounds is not a significant issue. For many small firms, however, it could make the difference between swimming and sinking.
Back in 2016, Lord Justice Briggs carried out a review of the civil courts which concluded that enforcement of judgments was the ‘Achilles heel’ of the civil system.
Briggs recommended, among other things, the establishment of an Online Court to handle claims of less than £25,000 to speed up the system by reducing the amount of paperwork and form-filling.
Like so many substantial reforms, this one is happening but has been delayed by at least a year. It is not due to come into force until 2023.
High-value claims can be just as difficult to enforce, as debtors attempt to hide assets in a variety of ways.
There also continues to be concern and uncertainty over the potential implications of Brexit on the tried and trusted enforcement mechanisms used across European jurisdictions.
While the system remains problematic and in need of reform, choosing the right firm to enforce judgments made in your favour is more important than ever before.
You’ll forgive a little blowing of our own trumpet at this point.
At Bellavia & Associates, we specialise in commercial high-value litigation and enforcement.
Our cash collection specialist lawyers are in high demand because we think outside the box, never give up and we don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.
We have a reputation built up over many years for recovering money owed to our clients – and we rarely settle for less than the total amount owed.
It’s a reputation that has been hard-earned and one of which we are extremely proud.
Our view is that our clients cannot wait around while the civil justice system is reformed – they need action and results in the here and now rather than some undetermined point in the future.
Zep Bellavia is Managing Director of Newport-based solicitors and accountants Bellavia & Associates.