County Court system benefits from errors made by its staff

The writer is increasingly fed up of how the County Court service seemingly seeks to maximise its own income even when it is the one who has made an error.

For example, a client puts on the Directions Questionnaire the dates that they would not be available to attend a court hearing.  The court (presumably in error)  goes ahead and arranges a hearing on a date that has been declared unavailable by one of the parties.  Now you would think that a common sense approach would be to email the court and point out its own error and ask them to re-arrange the date?  No.  The response was “If you want to change the date, you must make a formal application and pay the fee of £100”.  

As it happened, our client made the application but did not pay the fee on the basis that it ought not to have been paid in order to correct a mistake by the court.  So, the court threw out the application, refused to adjourn the hearing and no doubt will find in favour of the person who was able to turn up.

Another example of blatant extortion by the court system is where a party pays £255 for a hearing to set aside a judgment given in default but where that party immediately agrees with the opponent that it be set aside without a hearing.  The court demands £100 to “rubber stamp” the Consent Order drafted by the parties but refuses to return the £255 for a hearing it never had to arrange let alone administer.

No wonder there were reports in the Summer that HMCTS – who run the County Court service – has racked up a nice little “surplus” of over £100,000,000  (yes that is one hundred million pounds).  


Authors: Jason Williams

Published: 30 Nov 2017


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