Access to justice hampered by court inefficiencies

Inefficient administration in court offices is hampering access to justice, according to the findings of the latest Law Society survey.

The sixth Woolf Questionnaire surveyed solicitors across the UK, asking about the effectiveness of civil justice reforms.

Nearly four out of ten respondents said that inefficient administration in court offices has had an impact on their clients’ cases. According to the survey, the court system is being hampered by delays, lost files, late notification of trial dates, trial bundles not being updated and a failure to answer phones.

A third of respondents felt that clients had been discouraged from pursuing claims because of prohibitive court costs, and 60 per cent have had to turn away a client with a meritorious claim because of lack of funding.

Commenting on the findings, Janet Paraskeva, Law Society chief executive, said: “There is a danger of the Woolf civil justice reforms being undermined by a lack of funding. Solicitors are telling us that the problems created by under-funding are increasing costs. Inevitably, this will have serious consequences for people on low incomes and could impede their access to justice.”