Solicitors call for Online Court to have lower £10,000 limit

23 March, 2016

The London Solicitors Litigation Association (LSLA) and the Law Society have called for a lower £10,000 limit for cases in the proposed Online Court (OC).

At the start of the year Lord Justice Briggs set out radical plans to create a new court system online for money claims worth up to £25,000, which will be designed “for use by litigants without lawyers”.

However, the LSLA and the Law Society have suggested that a lower limit of £10,000 would be more appropriate and considerate of the legal profession.

Ed Crosse, the committee member of the LSLA responsible for the Briggs review, said: “Costs are assessed summarily immediately after the determination of liability and quantum, so there is no delay, cost or uncertainty arising from detailed assessment.

“Our greatest concern, also identified as a concern in the review, is the feasibility of building the necessary IT infrastructure, essential for the online court to work, on time, within budget and with the necessary functionality to enable it to be genuinely user friendly for the vast majority of likely users.

“In the current climate of service and infrastructure cuts and increasing pressures on delivery of quality services at affordable prices, this represents a significant challenge.”

Agreeing with the LSLA that the first step should be a pilot project for claims up to £10,000, the Law Society said: “The OC is not, however, a panacea. “Many cases will be too complex for users to lodge a claim on an OC. Many users will feel uncomfortable using an online platform for substantial claims.

“There is still a considerable subset of the population that either has no IT access, no IT skills, or neither of those.”

The introduction of Online Courts is likely to have a significant impact on the potential fee earnings for small to medium-sized firms, especially for those who regularly assist in disputes regarding payments.

Whilst this policy is still some way off, planning ahead in preparation for its introduction could help you minimise the damage to your fee earnings. To find out how we can help you make savings across your firm, please contact us.