Civil claimants are keen to find ways to avoid court but much less inclined to consider formal mediation, according to new research.
A court users’ survey for 2014/15, published last week by the Ministry of Justice, showed 70% of all claimants had contacted the other side to try to resolve their dispute, with 86% of people making specific money claims seeking an out-of-court settlement.
But just 23% of claimants had entered formal mediation, with 43% disregarding it as an option.
Amongst all claimants, 68% ideally would have avoided making a court claim altogether. Just 14% wanted to make a court claim, with 19% not minding either way.
At least 78% of each different group of claimant expected their case to go in their favour, with just 1% forecasting defeat and 10% rating their chances of success as ‘even’.
Even though respondents were several months into their claim, 11% of claimants expected their case to last at least another year.
Around seven out of 10 claimants had used a solicitor or other lawyer to conduct their case, with the majority of these being given legal assistance throughout and just 8% opting to ditch their representative and go it alone.
The biggest factor in using a solicitor or other lawyer was the need for expertise and knowledge (65%), with free representation (35%), ensuring the right outcome (26%) and getting advice (25%) rated as the next most important factors.
The poll showed that 47% of claimants paid the court fees they had expected, with 38% finding the fees more than expected.
It also highlighted a large degree of ignorance about the process of each case: 52% did not know what to expect of court staff and 30% admitted to not knowing who had even made the claim for them.
The majority of claims were concluded in favour of the claimant, which the MoJ suggested showed that individual claimants ‘tend to use the system appropriately for meritorious cases’.