Increase In The County Court Claims Value For Equity Claims
This week, the government announced it intended to increase the maximum value of property claims that can be started and dealt with in the County Court.
Currently, the maximum value of claims involving equity proceedings (those usually about the ownership of property) is £30,000. Anything over that value must be started in the High Court. If claims are straight forward, the High Court usually orders that the matter can be dealt with in the County Court. However, going through that process creates unnecessary cost and delay.
The law specifying the maximum is the County Courts Jurisdiction Order 1981 and the proposal is to update that law.
The proposal is to increase County Court claims value for equity claims, to a whopping £350,000. This will take a great deal of work away from the High Court Judges and put the burden on the County Court Judges. The view of many is that the County Courts are already dealing with too much work so it is an unusual approach. Perhaps the government may introduce changes to take other types of work away from County Court Judges.
The reasoning given by Lord Faulks is that the High Court Judges need to focus on more complex matters which require their greater expertise and experience. Because the law is quite old, it is also appropriate to increase the limit to reflect the increase in property prices.
There are other proposals the government is thinking of introducing, to shuffle more work from the High Courts to the County Courts. These include giving the County Courts greater power to make freezing orders (orders freezing assets). There is also a proposal to increase the minimum value of personal injury claims that can be issued in the High Court from £25,000 to £100,000.
Watch this space for further developments affecting the County Courts.