In brief: Public unaware of small claims process

The public seems generally to be unaware of the small claims procedure, the National Audit Office says in a report. NAO head Sir John Bourn told Parliament last week that the county courts provided an accessible, speedy and cost-effective service. The NAO examination included a survey of litigants involved in 3,000 small claims cases and found that although the extent of awareness of the procedure among the public is not known, “there are indications that it may be low”. Three quarters of small claims were for unpaid bills. Most litigants represented themselves at arbitration hearings, although nearly a quarter of hearings involved legal representatives.