Hitting a moving target?

Last night, tennis commentators were saying that yesterday was one of the most extraordinary days in Wimbledon history.

An unprecedented number of top stars dropped out of the tournament, either through injury or through unforeseen loss to a much lower-ranked opponent.  Federer, Sharapova, Tsonga, Azarenka, Cilic, Isner all went home.

Coincidentally, I was asking my legal claims manager at Lovetts to complete the online survey about HMCTS service levels which all CCUA members have just received from chairman Brian Havercroft.  (I shall be analysing the results in July for the CCUA as a follow-on from my speech at last year’s Annual Conference).

What is the connection between Wimbledon and the CCUA?

Well, it’s this.  As I’ve talked with my managers recently, it is clear that the problems in the Court Service are changing all the time. Like tennis balls. So too is our feedback to HMCTS, it’s a moving target.

It takes repeated effort to obtain it, and then feed it back to senior Court staff. And they’re asking for it…if you know what I mean. For instance, last year, our CCUA and CCBC members scored our local courts as relatively high for competence, helpfulness and response.

I suspect this year, our views may be different.  Resourcing for local courts is patchy, and delays and mistakes are, in Lovetts experience, more rife than ever before.  How sad, when you think how dedicated the local court staff have been over so many years.

The huge performance difference between courts

Two weeks ago, I was shown a report produced by HMCTS South-Eastern region at a CCUA meeting.  It showed that some local courts in the South-East were performing very badly compared to others.

The exact timescales for handling claims in top and bottom performing courts were shown. Thus, a small claim in Brighton in 2012-13 typically took 25 weeks from Claim to Hearing.  A small claim in Reigate (a few miles up the A23 from Brighton) took 44 weeks.

That is a staggering 19 weeks difference, or 4.5 months longer to get a case heard and resolved.

Let’s keep feeding back

Wimbledon stars are knocked out when they cannot hit the moving target of a small yellow ball.

If we don’t keep feeding back to HMCTS – through CCUA – the detail of what is happening in our Courts, then that moving target will not be hit, and we’ll be in danger of being knocked out of the tournament. Bluntly, our debtors may, by then, be bust.

Author: Charles Wilson, CEO of Lovetts plc, Debt recovery solicitors