Blog from the Chair of the PLA – Keith Conway

 

Welcome to the brand new Property Litigation Association Blog. This is another exciting year for the PLA as we look to help the courts understand what our members and their clients need from the court service. Various chairs of the PLA will take the ‘e-seat’ to bring you news about work across the Association and to encourage you to be ever-more involved.

It is not all one sided – we need and expect your contributions and comments and if we like them we will publish them, provided they are very short and immensely interesting – of course.

Talking about short and immensely interesting – my year in the chair is very short and moving far too fast. However will I achieve what I want to get done when a quarter of the year has flown past already?
The list of major wins I will attempt this year are as follows:

  • Get you lot to start reading the BLOG and to participate and comment back
  • Get more County Courts to answer the phone more quickly and provide the information you need
  • Get some form of counter service returned to the County Courts
  • Get some of the backlogs and response times shortened
  • Get the MOJ and HMCTS to join us to debate the issues raised in the Court Users Report
  • Stop all the nonsense and wasted costs around Cost Budgeting
  • Have a very enjoyable and worthwhile PLA Conference
  • Get to bed that Thursday night so I am sufficiently awake on the Friday
  • Continue to take forward the next even better and more interactive version of our PLA website
  • Advance the 1995 Act proposals for reforms
  • Keep responding to the myriad of consultations in the absurdly short timeframes we are given
  • Keep the Junior PLA thriving
  • Run more and more regional events – some of which involve more than drinking and socials
  • Run more drinking and social events – as we all like to talk – a lot
  • Have a jolly good time at the same time as achieving most of the above and a lot more!

Note to self – a blog (and life) must be more than just a list of bullet points and unfulfilled aspirations!
For sure we will need your help and input on the above so please do chip in a lot whether specifically requested or otherwise. I know now we cannot achieve all my aims but with the great assistance and dedication of our members and committee members we are making some worthwhile progress.

I now intend to be more formal for a few lines…

The County Court Users Report

We have, following the Report, met twice with CLCCT and HMCTS. Both these meetings were very productive. We have just posted the Minutes of the former meeting and are finalising the minute of the latter so that both are available to you. CLCCT are very concerned to give us the best service they can having regard to their resources. Some aspects are not in CLCCT’s gift and have been discussed by us with HMCTS. HMCTS have a budget of £700m to deliver a far enhanced and modernised system by 2020. This is mainly a young and dynamic team with some frontline experience in the Court administration system. HMCTS were quite alarmed at some of the issues. For example the withdrawal of counter service. HMCTS have agreed to consider a work around – but I suspect this will take time to implement – and may despite our best efforts not prove possible. This is why we need continued and up-to-date feedback to evidence the fact that the problems are still very much with us and whether they have – as in part claimed by CLCCT – sufficiently improved and got a lot better.

ONLY YOU CAN PROVIDE US WITH THE INFORMATION. It is clear there is also a mismatch between what CLCCT KPI’s reveal and the reality we experience (with great frustration) every day. The key questions have now been sent out to you but I repeat them here:

  1. The time taken to provide a substantive response to correspondence sent to the court.
  2. The time taken to turn around Consent Orders
  3. The time taken to get hearings
  4. Whether you have had trials bounced
  5. The time taken to have cases transferred to CLCCT

PLEASE PROVIDE URGENT FEEDBACK BY E MAILING MARY AND COMPLETING THE MINI SURVEY

Another gem and masterly use of statistics and definitions suitable for lawyers but not their clients is how CLCCT classify what is a complaint. It appears this is something sufficiently marked “complaint” or a chaser on a chaser (or sometimes a chaser on a chaser chasing a normal letter) – we were certainly a little confused at this!!! Accordingly, readers will appreciate that CLCCT‘s record their complaints as having dramatically decreased but we were at pains to explain that was not a view we would suspect would be shared by our members.

That’s it for now folks as we all have client work to deal with too – as well as important PLA matters. We will of course continue to update you and I hope to see as many of you as possible at the Annual Conference on 14/15th April.
My final word is that I know Alan Langleben (see obituary posted on 29 February) was very proud of the PLA and all its achievements over the years – he would have loved to think of us entering the unknown (for us) world of regular blogs. I hope you have learnt something useful as a result of your quick read of the above. Bye for now!!

Keith Conway
Chairman

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