In the last 12 months, there has been considerable scepticism expressed about the introduction of the County Court Money Claims Centre (CCMCC). As such, I think it is important to balance those views against the fact that the centralisation has been a massive undertaking that will clearly take time to work.
My firm, Connell Associates Solicitors, was among the first to adopt the revised procedures when they came into effect in late 2011 and we are now starting to see improvements in efficiency. While I accept that concerns expressed by the legal profession should be swiftly addressed, we believe that everyone should be encouraged to work with the CCMCC to ensure that the issuing of proceedings centrally works as proficiently as possible.
Importantly, these changes will significantly reduce the burden on UK taxpayers. Some 80% of civil and family courts’ running costs are now being met by fee income, with the remainder of the £612m coming from the Ministry of Justice’s spending settlement. Furthermore, the centre is expected to deliver £3m in cost savings for 2012/13 – its first full year of operation.
While concerns about delays are valid, it should also be pointed out that statistics from the CCMCC show that since the service went live, 315,000 cases have been issued through the new system, with more than 35,000 in November 2012 alone. The centre is currently processing around 7,600 claims, 2,800 defences and 2,065 judgments each week, within an average of five working days.
Evidently, this process has been a huge undertaking. But its successful implementation relies upon the continued support of the wider legal community and that is something that my firm has firmly pledged.
In my opinion, those responsible for the centre, and for the running of the courts, have done an exceptional job. I can only hope that any concerns and feedback will be used constructively, and to the benefit of a smooth-running and cost-effective system.
Michael Connell, Connell Associates Solicitors, Liverpool