It's too early for reform comment

Write to: The Editor, The Lawyer, 50 Poland Street, London W1V 4AX, fax 0171 970 4640, e-mail, DX44700 Soho Square.

I read with concern an article describing the civil courts as being in chaos after the implementation of the Civil Justice Reforms (The Lawyer, 7 June).

As chief executive of the Court Service Agency I feel it is my duty to correct that impression. The civil courts are not in a mess. Six weeks on from the start of the Government's programme to modernise civil justice, the courts are coping admirably. We have no concrete management information yet because it is still too early, not because figures are not being collated. Data is collected on a monthly basis and the statistics for May will not be complete for some weeks yet. What I expect the figures to show is that across the country courts experienced an increase in workload in the weeks immediately preceding implementation, followed by an early downturn in the numbers of claims issued. That drop in claims is not, as you say, because the courts are unable to cope; rather that claimants and the profession are getting to grips with the new procedures and pre-action protocols. Anecdotal evidence now suggests that levels of process are returning to normal. Clearly then the lawyers are not "avoiding a court system that is a mess" but confirming their faith in it by resuming normal issue levels.

I agree with the president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers when he says that it will be next year before we can realistically assess the impact of these major reforms on the number of cases going to court.

Ian Magee, chief executive, the Court Service Agency