ICSM Business News: concerns mount over ‘ridiculously long’ court delays in processing small claims with the average wait of almost a YEAR

ICSM Business News: concerns mount over ‘ridiculously long’ court delays in processing small claims with the average wait of almost a YEAR

By Harry Mottram: Ian Carrotte of ICSM has hit out at the delays experienced in creditors chasing small claims through the courts. The Ministry of Justice admits that both small claims and multi/fast track claims are taking far longer than they did a year ago. The Law Society are reporting that research conducted by the ACSO with Express Solicitors found that, on average, it takes 353 days for a small claim to be processed while for fast track and multi-track claims the delays can run far longer.

Ian Carrotte said: “ICSM’s debt collection service has seen these delays due to short staffing by the courts, a back log caused by rising number of companies struggling to survive and repay their covid loans and under investment in the court system. The upshot is rogues are getting away with not paying their invoices, not being sanctioned in court and having a sense of ‘I don’t need to pay.’ By the time they have come to court they have often set up another business and failed again – knowing they are virtually untouchable in the short term. Those who pay the price of this inaction are businesses who trade legally and pay their bills and expect their customers to do the same.”

As many small claims are from members of the public there are delays to payments for instance in insurance road traffic injury settlements, compensation for faulty goods, and disputes between tenants and landlords. However many small claims are by small businesses and the self-employed whose cash flow may often be very modest and so these delays can affect the viability of their business. Fast track and multi-track claims are taking longer – and these often affect SMEs who find it frustrating that company directors abuse the system to buy even more time to refrain from paying up. Small claims are generally for less than £10,000, while the fast track claims are for straightforward cases of £10,000 to £25,000 and the multi-track is for those of £25,000 and up.

The Law Society have reported on The Association of Consumer Support Organisations who point out the figures are the worst since the Credit Crunch of 2009 when large numbers of companies got into trouble and were taken to court by suppliers. In 2019 for example there were 2,029,258 claims while in 2022 there were 1,537,759 in 2022 – a fall of 24%.

Ian Carrotte said: “It is not acceptable as these figures give all the wrong signals to those who flout the rules of credit and refuse to pay their invoices on time or at all. It encourages phoenixes and traders who think they can take their suppliers for fools running up a bill and then finding another supplier to run a bill there. Action needs to be taken to increase the clow through the courts as it has a negative effect on the economy.”



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