Getting a speedy response from the courts is difficult at the best of times. But there is a looming crisis in court proceedings because so many hearings and actions are being delayed because of the measures to prevent the spread of corona virus. When the measures are lifted the courts will be flooded with applications and claims. Many of the applications will relate to missed deadlines and delayed hearings. The claims will be filed by all those people who wish to file now but cannot because the courts are not accepting claims plus other claims arising from the collapse of businesses and personal incomes.
Today’s daily operational summary from the courts says that they are “arranging remote hearings wherever possible”. Solicitors should do all they can to facilitate this so that their clients’ claims can proceed. Otherwise, the claims could be mired in a massive backlog in a few months and solicitors will be trying to explain to clients that it is impossible to get a response from overworked court staff.
The Lord Chief Justice as warned of “inevitable backlogs and delays that are building in the system and will build to an intolerable level if too much court business is simply adjourned.”
It is not easy when you are working from home and clients are distracted with other concerns. I have clients who are working in the NHS and it feels almost cruel to make them focus on court deadlines. But you must protect your clients at this time by keeping their proceedings on track as best you can by communicating with the court and arranging remote hearings wherever possible so that they get an outcome without the potentially huge delays that could result from this crisis.
Even now we have to be thinking about the inevitable backlogs and delays that are building in the system and will build to an intolerable level if too much court business is simply adjourned.