The coronavirus pandemic has left backlogs in just about every section of society, and as we know all too well, the justice system hasn’t gotten away with it either.
The number of backed up cases across the County Court system has become so problematic in fact, that the Government has pledged to inject £324 million over the next 3 years, with a view to not just cutting down the case load, but to streamlining court processes for the future.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged in last week’s budget, to give £2.2 billion to the Ministry of Justice, and this amount is one part of that grand total.
Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab, is adamant that this boost in funding...
...”means we can focus on building a better, more efficient, justice system for all.”
That has to be something we can all get behind.
So, what will the money be spent on? How will its effectiveness be measured?
That’s what our clients want to know, especially as they’ve been expected to wait patiently for 18 months, unable to reclaim their properties or pursue outstanding debts and rent arrears.
Effectively sitting on their hands and twiddling their thumbs.
Well, for a start, just short of two thirds of the money will go towards upgrading the court system’s outdated and ‘clunky’ technology, with a view to moving court processes to speedy and safe online platforms.
Whilst the money is welcome news to anyone in the landlord industry, there have been some voices saying that much more needs to be done to avoid this becoming a ‘papering over the cracks’ type approach to a significantly larger and much more deeply rooted problem.
Michelle Heeley QC, for instance, of No5 Barristers’ Chambers, says that ...
...”the backlog crisis started before the pandemic, which has merely exacerbated the situation.”
And Paul Shamplina, of Landlord Action says that he hopes...
....”some of this extra cash will be spent on a major recruitment exercise to provide more judges and more bailiffs.”
Landlords have walked away from the sector in their thousands over their treatment throughout the pandemic.
How the Government handle this pot of money will now determine whether or not everyone else decides to stick it out.
People want their money back or they want their properties repossessed.
Speedier processes and cleared backlogs will help, but it has to be done properly.