The Annual Report of HM Courts & Tribunal Service was published on the 18th of July. Click here to download your own copy.

It’s a fairly weighty document but I had a quick scan through and there are a few observations that I would like to share.

The report is packed with performance indicators, which give a picture of mixed outcomes. Strides in digitisation are to be congratulated, particularly for money claims and on-line divorce petitions, but over-all I’m left feeling some pessimism.

County Court Claims
 

Fig. 7 on page 39 reveals that the time taken for small claims in the county court to reach trial has increased to around 38 weeks. This is concerning for legal expenses insurers:

  • as lengthy delays impact on reserves being held as claims remain open for longer.
  • Policyholders do not always understand that delays in settling cases are due to time tables set by the courts, so these delays also have the potential to result in complaints being made against insurers.
  • The average cost of rent indemnity claims brought under landlords’ policies will increase.
Employment Tribunal Cases
 

Fig. 11 on page 41 illustrates the increase in single employment tribunal claims that has been evident from the quarterly tribunal stats releases. There were just below 30,000 applications for Q1 2019, compared to below 4,000 per quarter prior to the July 2017 when ET fees were withdrawn.

Fig 14 on page 42 shows that the average time for disposal of ET claims has edged up from 25 weeks to 30 weeks since July 2017.

Data Protection
 

Page 57 - HMC & TS owns up to some data security breaches that make for very uncomfortable reading. A courier losing paperwork in transit and a judge’s e-mail account being hacked by criminals were - sort of - someone else’s fault. There are also isolated incidents of sensitive information being disclosed resulting from human error. On balance, it is completely understandable that an organisation the size of HMC& TS should experience the odd breach. (HMC&TS employs over 14,0000 employees and a couple of thousand agency workers) and these incidents are low in number. The revelations just go to show how difficult it is to prevent breaches.

 
Gender Equality

My last observation concerns gender equality. (Page 84 of the report).

  • 71% of HMC&TS employees are female and 29% are male
  • Executives and board members comprise 33% female and 67% male
  • The figures for senior managers are 56% female and 44% male

Something is not quite fair. Clearly there is work to be done to redress the imbalance in hierarchy.

I hope some of these observations have been of interest? Let me know what you think!

Lesley Attu Blog

Disclaimer - all information in this article was correct at time of publishing.