Solicitors can cut delays in processing claims at the County Court Money Claims Centre by not stapling forms together, the centre has suggested.
The advice appears in a list of ways in which ‘customers’ can help the much-criticised Salford centre, which marks its first birthday this month.
Other items in the 10-point ‘Help the County Court Money Claims Centre’ plan include putting case numbers in the subject line of emails, naming a ‘preferred court’ rather than leaving staff to decide, and providing complete names and addresses for all parties.
The list was drawn up at the suggestion of Keith Etherington, Law Society council member for civil litigation. He said that some of the proposed measures are more sensible than others. ‘Common sense says that [emails] can be sorted more easily if the subject line includes what document is attached and its case number.
‘But not stapling papers together so that staff are relieved of the burden of un-stapling them? If only that was all that they had to worry about. And anyway, won’t papers get separated from the bundle and lost?’
Etherington said he was surprised by the need to ask firms to provide names and addresses of parties.
The list also notes that the centre (pictured) receives more than 1,000 duplicate documents each week, wasting staff time and causing delays in processing claims and defences. Etherington said he was ‘baffled why firms would want to send the same document two or three times’.
He said: ‘Heads of litigation departments must be quite worried if this is typical of the standard sent out by firms.’
The Salford centre continues to attract complaints about papers being lost or returned unread, files taking weeks to be sent to court and, in at least one case, a letter of complaint being mislaid.
The record appears at odds with the centre’s claim that centralised electronic filing and billing systems would cut turnaround times from five days to one and save £2m-£3m a year.
Etherington added: ‘It’s in everyone’s interests to help things improve. No matter how much we might hate the centre and its processes, they are here to stay.’
A spokesman for the centre said that, after difficulties at the start, 95% of work is completed within five working days.
For the full list of suggestions go to Etherington’s website