Speed of Justice
The efficiency of courts continues to vary greatly around the world. Enforcing a contract through the courts can take four years in Greece, Bangladesh and India, according to recent World Bank figures. The average time in the Group of 20 (G20) major economies is 18 months.
The World Bank's enforcing contracts indicator measures the time for resolving a standardised commercial dispute, involving expert evidence, between two domestic businesses through a local first-instance court.
According to these figures, the time taken in the United Kingdom is 437 days; just over 14 months. However, the English courts have implemented a procedure to provide quicker justice in applicable cases.
English Courts - trial within 10 months
The English courts recognise that businesses want shorter and earlier trials, at reasonable and proportionate cost. The new Shorter Trial procedure offers dispute resolution on a commercial timescale.
Cases will be case managed by docketed Judges with the aim of reaching trial within approximately 10 months of the issue of proceedings and judgment within six weeks thereafter. International arbitration style document disclosure is used. The procedure recognises that comprehensive document disclosure and a full, oral trial on all issues is often not necessary for justice to be achieved.
Shorter Trials pilot scheme
- In the High Court, London: Chancery Division (including the Patents Court and the Companies Court), the Commercial Court, the London Mercantile Court and the Technology and Construction Court
- Trial no more than four days
- Designated Judge throughout
- Truncated pre-action procedure: succinct letter of claim; proposed defendant shall respond within 14 days stating whether it agrees to or opposes the procedure
- Statements of case should be no more than 20 pages in length and be accompanied by a bundle of core documents on which the party intends to rely
- International arbitration style document disclosure: disclosure of documents relied upon, together with voluntary and Court ordered disclosure against requests for disclosure by other party
- Witness statements generally no more than 25 pages in length
- Limited oral evidence from witnesses and experts at trial
- Judgment within six weeks of trial
- Immediate assessment and award of costs shortly after judgment.