Insights & News

The legal system is broken: Why are fees increasing but service and support decreasing?

The age-old saying, “Justice delayed is justice denied,” has never resonated more than it does now because of the current state of our legal system.

The justice system was built to uphold fairness and equality and protect society, but ironically, it has now become inaccessible for many. Why? Because there has been a hike in court fees contrasted by a decrease in the quality of service and support.

The crisis

Just three years ago, starting a legal case was affordable. The system for paying court fees was simple, clear, and, most importantly, affordable. Court fees were scaled based on your claim’s value, capped at approximately £500. This facilitated more equitable access to the courts, ensuring that finances didn’t deter individuals from seeking justice.

However, the legal landscape then changed. The new system mandated that people pay 5% of the claim’s value and up to £10,000 for claims exceeding £200,000 – a  dramatic increase from £500 to £10,000. What triggered this incredible shift?

Understanding the problem

The answer lies in the government’s fiscal strategy. Facing the pressure to streamline budgets, one of the public sectors that came under pressure was legal services. The government of the time believed that by transferring a portion of the financial responsibility onto the public demands upon the Court service would be reduced to more manageable levels.   Unfortunately, exactly the opposite has materialised…so legal proceedings are much more expensive, but the service offered by our Courts is significantly worse. 

Our local County Court used to have eight dedicated full-time staff, but now there’s only one part-time employee. There are now fewer judges and even fewer people providing support for your legal case. Cases now take 4-5 years to get to the end when they used to take around 1-2 years.

The system’s efficiency has plummeted. For example, the “Unless Order” – an order specifying that, if an earlier Court Order is not complied with by the specified date, the claim/defence shall be struck out has totally lost its effectiveness. What was once  an effective ‘case management’ tool is more or less futile as the Courts take months on end processing the Unless Order applications.

The consequences

This situation is more than mere statistics and anecdotes. It signifies a broken system where people, despite paying significantly more, are trapped in a sluggish and inefficient system.

The simple act of communicating with the court can feel like an endurance test, with many finding themselves on hold for several hours, emphasising the depth of the crisis.

CWD’s proactive approach

At CWD, we recognise the system’s issues, and our core philosophy is to advocate for out-of-court resolutions.

But we also understand that sometimes, court intervention is inevitable. For such instances, CWD offers innovative solutions, including DBAs (damages-based agreements), insurance options, etc., to help you manage your legal fees.

More importantly, at CWD, we are completely outcome focused.  In legal disputes there are lots of different routes to a conclusion. Getting to the desired finish line as quickly as possible is generally what our clients want – so that is always our priority too. By testing at the beginning our client’s budget and risk appetite, we can often craft a tailored, fixed-fee arrangement.  Rather than a one-size-fits-all model, our approach ensures that each client, regardless of their financial capacity, receives the high quality legal service they deserve.

In an era where the legal world is increasingly more complex, having a reliable partner can make all the difference.

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