A quiet month but building up for the conference season

This month has seen work behind the scenes with Jeremy Chaplin, the Association Legal & Technical committee chairman, and I looking at further issues and lobbying opportunities. Jeremy has held meetings with several Association members and will be producing a consultation document on the issue of small claims and costs; we are hoping that this will stimulate considerable debate although it would appear that the limits have been set.

In addition we held a very interesting meeting with a representative of the Credit Services Association over spurious claims; further details are in the members’ section. Needless to say the Association will lead the negotiation with the various organisations we intend to involve.

You will also be aware that we have issued press releases firstly on the problems faced by users over delays. It has seemed to the Association that over the last three months delays have increased and we have been regularly in touch with HMCTS over various problems.  They have been able to respond to the issues we have raised but clearly any increase in delays and problems is to the detriment of users and needs to be dealt with.

The other press release related to the failure to provide the specification for the new case numbering system and bulk data handling proposals.  We have been waiting for this since June and had proposed to hold meetings for users in July and August. Sadly the details were not provided until the middle of August and so we need to change our plans for dates and venues.  When the Chairman of the Bulk Centre user group returns from holiday we will begin to make arrangements.

Plans are now well in hand for the Association conference on 16th October and Amir Ali and his committee have put together an exciting programme. With 7 hours CPD points available and reduced costs for additional attendees it is excellent value for money and also provides an opportunity to hear first hand from senior executives from HMCTS; I hope to see you there.

Have a great August

Warm regards

Brian Havercroft – Chairman

For details of the benefits of becoming a CCUA member, please visit our website http://www.ccua.org.uk or our LinkedIn company page http://www.linkedin.com/company/civil-court-users-association.

Also, why not follow us on Twitter @theccua

Another month and it seems that the Court system is beginning to creak.

Postings on the association linked in page show the frustration felt by users over the performance of the CCMCC at Salford.

We have been able to assist users but the feeling appears to be that the volume of business the CCMCC is receiving is overwhelming them and perhaps a more structured approach would have been better. The most recent issue appears to resolve around the customer services inbox being full and unable to take messages; if you are unable to make contact then this does not augur well.

We have also been approached over responses by the call centre at Loughborough and have provided them with details of issues there, again, the management are keen to resolve any problems but it only raises concern over the performance and the need for speedy action.

However as we have said before once the staff have settled in then we would hope the situation will quieten down but on current performance it does not look good and issuers need to begin to see improvements.

We held a very informative meeting with the Association of District Judges and full details are on the members’ site, we value the meetings we have with the association and I am grateful to their taking the time to talk to us.

Work is still going on in respect of case numbering changes and we had hoped to have arranged the members meetings to discuss the issues. However we have only just received a draft specification and once a further version has been received we will make the necessary arrangements.

Again the court user is being left behind in the process; we were advised over 15 months ago that changes would have to be made and yet 15 months later we are still awaiting full details and, in the meantime, time marches on.

Clearly all these issues will be aired at the Association’s conference on 16th October in Leicester when we will have officials from both the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service present and their presentations will be eagerly awaited.

The question time session I am certain will be particularly interesting (if not stimulating).

Please make sure the date is in your diary and for practitioners do not forget that CPD points are available; further information can be obtained from claireh@ccua.org.uk

Have a great August

Warm regards

Brian Havercroft – Chairman

For details of the benefits of becoming a CCUA member, please visit our website http://www.ccua.org.uk or our LinkedIn company page http://www.linkedin.com/company/civil-court-users-association.

Also, why not follow us on Twitter @theccua

New age CCUA to deal with current issues

With holiday for a greater part of the month there is not so much to report on my travels on behalf of the Association. However…

At beginning of the month the quarterly liaison meeting was held with the Ministry of Justice and HMCTS and discussion took place on a number of subjects.

Several issues have been raised over the performance of the new CCMCC at Salford and it is pleasing to note that whilst delays and problems occur the management and staff do their best to rectify the problems.

If there is a criticism it is that insufficient time was allowed to train staff fully but once the initial problems are ironed out then the service should begin to improve.

Questions were asked about the Payment by Account process (PBA) and it would appear that there is a need for a further trial to take place. We emphasised the support for the project following the presentation at last year’s Annual Conference.

HMCTS are also reviewing the application to obtain information (Oral Exam) process, there may be changes but the Association will be kept advised.

These meetings are very useful as a sounding board on issues members raise and also to understand what may be in the pipeline.

The following week was the half yearly meeting of the County Court Bulk Centre user group for which the Association acts as the secretariat. The main concerns here are the new case numbering process and changes to bulk input.

There was so much concern about the proposals on behalf of those present that the CCUA have agreed to hold three regional meetings for users to hear the plans from HMCTS and for them to appreciate the problems this may cause. The proposed changes will have major implications to all users and the time limits are very tight. At the time of producing this report we are still awaiting a timeline and a high level specification which will allow users to understand the impact the proposals are to have.

Finally I attended the Association Northern Regional meeting which was well attended and where we heard about the court based mediation scheme. Certainly it appears to be very successful and bearing in mind it is free then it is worth considering.

Unfortunately the South East region meeting was the same day and I was sorry to be unable to attend; also because of holidays I missed the Central Region meeting at the HMCTS call centre which I understand went very well.

And as we continue to engage with ‘New media’, it is very pleasing to see that there is considerable discussion on the Association’s Linked-in group pages on several subjects and we will, where possible, take up member’s problems with HMCTS. We have always said that you may consider you have a problem but when it is aired it can be that many people have the same problem. It may turn out to be a major issue that needs resolving and we will do our best to sort it out.

So, time now to go and check our tweets and LinkedIn messages – how new age am I?

Warm regards

Brian Havercroft
Chairman – CCUA

Brides, fire alarms and some court business too – This month’s CCUA Chairman’s Review

The month of May has been a most memorable month mainly because of my daughter’s wedding.

We were most lucky as the weather was superb and the guests enjoyed the pig roast, barn dance and the beer.  Of course, Claire looked beautiful and it was a very proud day for me and my wife.

The month started off with my speaking at a seminar organised by the Westminster Legal Policy Forum on the subject of the changes under the Transforming Justice paper. The forum has several MPs as patrons and I have taken the opportunity to write to them advising them of the Association and its’ objectives; I have received a response from one of them and am intending to have a meeting with him in July.

The forum is interested in the issues raised by the recent paper on bailiff regulation and is hoping to arrange a seminar on the subject at the beginning of next year.

Following the meeting I then attended the Ministry of Justice to discuss the proposals for case numbering. Having registered at reception the fire alarm then sounded and together with the 1000+ staff I moved to St James Park to await the call to return to the office.  After about 20 minutes and no news it was decided that the meeting could continue at the local hostelry and so we concluded the discussion over drinks.

The meeting was arranged ahead of the County Court Bulk Centre user group meeting in June. We were advised 12 months ago that case numbers were running out and the purpose of the meeting was to review their proposals. Unfortunately it appeared that their suggestions were not user friendly. The matter was to be discussed at the user group meeting in June, where as expected the response from members to the proposals was not overwhelming and a series of regional meetings are to be arranged in July to consider the implications.

The following day I was back at the Ministry for an update on any future plans. Sadly it appears that the government is committed to increase the small claims limit and the Association is intending to make our views known as to the impact this will have.

I am afraid this is another example of the views of the court users being disregarded.

Another issue that is causing concern is the requirement for all enforcement officers to provide a 7 day notice of intention to attend. The response from members is that this will reduce the effectiveness of the process. It is not as though a Defendant does not receive sufficient notice, be it letter of claim, claim form and judgment. Again the Association is intending to express its members’ views at the highest level.

Finally at the end of the month I was a guest at the Institute of Legal Executives Presidents luncheon in London. The Association continues to seek to strengthen its’ ties with professional bodies and a meeting has recently been held with Peter Wallwork from the Credit Services Association to consider what issues we can jointly act on.

So another busy month and for those of you considering whether the Civil Court Users Association might be a useful organisation to become a member of, well I hope I’ve provided you here with a flavour of the level of effort we put in the help secure a better court service for our members.

Best wishes

Brian

Brian Havercroft
Chairman – CCUA

Membership of the CCUA is by approval. For more information on how to apply please follow this link   http://www.ccua.org.uk/join.php

The Chairman’s Review for March 2012

March has been a busy month

It began with the Northern regional meeting being held at the new money claim centre in Salford and following the normal formalities those of us present were taken on a guided tour of the facility.

It is clear that the management and staff do want the centre to work but they are working under considerable strain and, personally, I was surprised at the sheer volume of paper that they are dealing with.

As you will be aware it went fully live on 19th March and if any members have any issues they should let the association know by sending details to info@ccua.org.uk. We will then feed this information through to the management to have the problems resolved.

On a slightly more positive note I was delighted to present the CCUA sponsored award for the highest mark in the ILEX Debt & Insolvency Paper on the 29thMarch. This course is sponsored by the Association and is given in the name of Steve Morris who was a valued member of the CCUA. The annual award goes to the student achieving the highest mark in the course. An award of £200 was presented to Anna Madden who works for member company Arrow Global at the ILEX Manchester region meeting.

On another note, I am encouraged to witness the evolution of our LinkedIn and Twitter social media activity, with our main LinkedIn group now close to 100 members (in less than 2 months) and our Twitter following now at 122 followers (not quite Lady Ga Ga’s level but we’re growing).

Just a reminder that the CCUA’s annual conference will be held on October 16th at the Leicester Marriot Hotel, we will shortly be publishing full details, including speaker line up. I would encourage everyone to invite non CCUA members connected to the legal industry to come along to this event especially ILEX members.

At the Civil Court Users Association’s 2012 House of Lords dinner held recently in the Cholmondeley Room in the House of Lords, the main speaker was the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury. He acknowledged the importance of the Civil Court Users Association and stated that the organisation should continue to remain involved in ensuring the interests of Claimants are considered.

It was excellent to hear the comments from Lord Neuberger and during the evening he asked that I speak to his office to arrange a meeting to allow further discussion to take place. It is another example of the important links the Association is forming in its endeavours to have Claimants’ views heard in order to ensure an effective court service.

In closing and just to prove that I am putting myself about, on behalf of CCUA members, as much as I possibly can, I have been invited to attend as a guest of Her Majesty’s Association of District Judges annual dinner on 30th April. This is yet another example of the fact that the CCUA is highly regarded and has the ear of those at the highest level in the Court Service.

Well, it’s time to go hide those eggs so I’d like to wish everyone a very happy Easter.

Brian

Brian Havercroft
Chairman

Chairman’s review – February 2012

Would you believe it, two months of the year gone already?

It has been a busy month primarily revolving around the company’s office move.

However despite this we have been busy on the Associations’ behalf. The government has finally produced a consultation paper on bailiff reform (all 700+ pages). Much of it looks at the work of the private bailiff but it will affect the civil side as well. There is a call for evidence on the CCA regulations and the £600 limit so we will need to respond and provide our views.

As you will be aware we held members meetings to provide the opportunity to respond to previous papers and they proved very successful; we are therefore considering calling meetings to discuss this paper. You will be contacted shortly on this.

We now have our group linked in page and we propose to utilise this more and more so we will be contacting those members that have yet to join. In addition we have commissioned changes to the website and, again, we will be providing details. We also have a closed members section in order that we may discuss issues that affect members, we hope this will become a very useful tool in ensuring members’ issues are resolved.

I attended the Northern Region meeting at the new Salford Business Centre on 1st March, there is much to be done although there is a commitment to get things right. However it is going to take a major effort on their behalf.  We have the next liaison meeting with HMCTS & MOJ on 8th March and we will be bringing up concerns of members.

Of course the House of Lords dinner takes place on the evening of 8th and it looks as though it will be another successful evening, I look forward to meeting many of you then.

Finally you may be aware that we sponsor the Debt & Insolvency paper for the Legal Executives nationally. I am pleased to say that Anna Madden from our members Arrow Global had the highest mark for the course in 2010 and I will be presenting her with her prize at the ILEX Manchester Branch meeting later in the month, many congratulations to her.

Finally, to join our LinkedIn group please go to http://www.linkedin.com/groups?about=&gid=4158326 and to follow the CCUA on Twitter  https://twitter.com/theccua.

Warm regards

Brian Havercroft
Chairman – Civil Court Users Association

http://www.ccua.org.uk 

Our first monthly ‘Chairman’s review’

Welcome to the first blog, as I am personally technically challenged this is a big step but one that needs to be taken. During the coming months I will provide details of what we have been doing and what is occurring in the future. Please do not hesitate to let me have your comments.

December and January have been very busy with time taken up on the fees issue and the latest insolvency consultation paper.

A Legal & Technical meeting looked at the fees issue as communication with the Ministry has not raised any written response. Jeremy Chaplin is putting together a plan to move the issue forward and members will be able to read the views on the website shortly.

Insolvency has raised its head in relation to the latest consultation paper and there has been overwhelming opposition to the plans. The Associations’ response will be posted on the website shortly but it appears to members that the scheme is merely a money saving exercise and another example of the “dumbing down” of the importance of bankruptcy. It was good to see so many people attending the meeting to discuss the matter and for the views provided.

The Association strongly believes that a proper system of justice is a fundamental component of our constitution.  It believes that creditors and debtors are entitled to a fair and proportionate system to address the question of indebtedness.

January has been busy with meetings which have been like buses, nothing for a while and then they all turn up at once.

I have already mentioned the KPMG seminar on insolvency and this was followed by our half yearly meeting with the HM Association of District Judges. My notes of the meeting are on the members ‘ area of the website. We value this relationship greatly and I am pleased that this view appears to be shared by the District Judges .

I then attended a meeting of the Credit Industry Working Group on Recovery Matters to review the data accuracy section of the OFT debt collection guidelines.

We discussed the requirements and Jane Shepherd from the OFT spoke to us about the issues. It is something that has been a cause of concern and has been addressed by the Lending Standards Board who have amended their code and outlined how they expect the new obligations to work in practice.

At our Council meeting in January we were advised that the Association is in a strong financial position and the initiative to provide more information to members is proceeding. Council is concerned to ensure that details of the work done by officers is transmitted to members.

I hope to meet more of you over the coming months to explain what is being done and would encourage you all to attend regional meetings and get involved in our aim to improve the service we receive from the courts.

Finally I would like to thank Rob Burke and the members of the editorial board for the excellent newsletter produced in December; the next edition is due in March.

Warm regards

Brian Havercroft
Chairman – Civil Court Users Association