HMCTS online civil claims service

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On 6 April 2018 HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) announced the launch of a new online civil claims service. Justin Coley explains why lenders should be aware.

New public online civil claims pilot

On 6 April 2018 HMCTS publicly announced the launch of a new online service to allow members of the public and businesses to issue money claims, resolve disputes and access mediation via a new online claims service. Known as Civil Money Claims, and available for money claims with a value of up to £10,000, the service replaces the Money Claim Online (MCOL) system which has been in operation since 2002.  It is the first key step in delivering Lord Briggs’ vision of a modernised court service, which called for an online court capable, ultimately, of dealing with claims worth up to £25,000.

HMCTS has stated that the new service is a faster and more user-friendly way to progress a claim in the County Court small claims track. It is therefore anticipated that members of the public who may previously have been put off using the civil courts to make small claims because of the length of time involved and the complexity of the MCOL system, may now be encouraged to issue their disputes online.

In many cases the new system is likely to improve access to justice for members of the public and small businesses, as well as time and cost savings for both claimants and defendants. The system should also free-up court and judicial time for more complex matters.

It is also possible, however, that the new, more easily accessible, system, and the inevitable publicity surrounding it, may encourage many more claimants – in particular litigants in person – to issue proceedings than ever before.

Some of those claims will have merit and may be properly and cost-effectively resolved via the online process. Some, however, may be spurious and need to be robustly rebutted by defendants (including our clients); and some may not actually be suitable for resolution within the Civil Money Claims online procedure.

Lenders and defendants generally should also be aware that many of the usual civil procedural rules and timescales do not apply within the online process.  Walker Morris’ specialist civil litigators have already dealt with some matters within this new system and will be able to advise defendants and to assist as required.

For further information, please contact Justin Coley.