County court block could cost millions

The vice-chancellor has blocked the progress of over 40,000 personal injury cases with a total value in the region of £80m.

In allowing leave to appeal to the House of Lords in the case of Dimond v Lovell, Sir Richard Scott issued guidance that all cases of a similar type should be stayed until the appeal has been heard, to allow clarification of a confused area of law.

The decision will halt approximately 10 per cent of the county court's fast-track caseload, estimated to be at least 40,000 actions.

Cases of this type are worth on average between £1,500 and £2,000.

Some courts are understood to be attempting to charge an £80 fee to apply to have a case stayed.

If all 40,000 applicants are forced to pay the fee this would provide approximately £3.2m of additional revenue for the court service.

The dispute in Dimond concerns conflicting interpretations of the Consumer Credits Act 1974. The cases are expected to be delayed until February.