These are reports from research we have completed.
1/2002 - Court-Based ADR Initiatives for Non-Family Civil Disputes: the Commercial Court and the Court of Appeal
2/2002 - A Civil Justice Audit
3/2002 - Judges' Case Management Perspectives: The Views of Opinion Formers and Case Managers
4/2002 - Professionalising Lay Justice - The Role of the Court Clerk in Family Proceedings
5/2002 - "...Its Only Parking But..."
6/2002 - The Impact of Conditional Fees on the Selection, Handling and Outcomes of Personal Injury Cases
7/2002 - The Impact of Sources of Finance on Personal Injury Litigation: An Empirical Analysis
8/2002 - Lay and Judicial Perspectives on the Expansion of the Small Claims Regime
9/2002 - The Impact on the Courts and the Administration of Justice of the Human Rights Act 1998
10/2002 - Safety and Child Contact: an analysis of the role of child contact centres in the context of domestic violence and child welfare concerns
11/2002 - Housing possession cases in the county court: Perceptions and experiences of black and minority ethnic defendants
No 1/2002 - Court-Based ADR Initiatives for Non-Family Civil Disputes: the Commercial Court and the Court of Appeal - by Professor Hazel Genn, Faculty of Laws at University College London
This report presents an evaluation of the Commercial Court's practice of issuing ADR Orders in selected commercial disputes and a review of the Court of Appeal's mediation scheme established in 1996. The broad findings of these evaluations are combined in a final Chapter with the results of an earlier evaluation of the Central London County Court mediation scheme to draw conclusions about court-based ADR initiatives that might be helpful in guiding future policy development on ADR.
The report considers the take-up of voluntary schemes as opposed to the response to court imposed directions to attempt ADR; the success rate of ADR; experiences and perceptions of ADR processes; and perceptions of the impact of successful and unsuccessful ADR on costs.
The report suggests the need for a more individualised approach by the courts to the direction of cases toward ADR; the development of clearly articulated selection principles and consideration of the timing of invitations or directions to attempt ADR.
No 2/2002 - A Civil Justice Audit - by Joanna Shapland, Angela Sorsby and Jeremy Hibbert
No 3/2002 - Judges' Case Management Perspectives: The Views of Opinion Formers and Case Managers - by Joyce Plotnikoff and Richard Woolfson
No 4/2002 - Professionalising Lay Justice - The Role of the Court Clerk in Family Proceedings - by Joan Hunt, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford
The role of the court clerk has become increasingly pivotal to the operation of our system of lay justice. This is especially the case in civil matters concerning children and their families where the clerk's duties and powers have been signicantly expanded under the 1989 Children Act. This project examined in depth the role and practice of the court clerk in these proceedings, using data gathered from the clerks themselves, magistrates and professionals using the courts.
No 5/2002 - "...It's Only Parking But..." Report of a research project on The Applicability to other Adjudicative Settings of Organisational Arrangements at the London Parking Appeals Service - by John Raine & Stephanie Snape, University of Birmingham
This report presents an evaluation of the London Parking Appeals Service (PAS) and an examination of the applicability to other adjudicative settings of a set of organisational arrangements that have been pioneered at PAS.
The project sought to draw out the lessons for other tribunals and courts in terms of costs, benefits and disbenefits. The research focused upon:
The extensive use of IT in support of the adjudication process
The recruitment of lawyers, part-time, to sit as adjudicators
A strong public service orientation
A largely out-sourced administration
Applicability of these key features . and importantly their combination . to other adjudicative settings has been examined in relation to inputs, process and outputs. Three different adjudicative arenas were considered, namely the development of a national PAS, other tribunals and magistrates' courts.
The report highlights various strengths and weaknesses associated with the particular organisational choices made both ahead of and during the establishment of London PAS
No 6/2002 - The Impact of Conditional Fees on the Selection, Handling and Outcomes of Personal Injury Cases - by Paul Fenn, Alastair Gray, Neil Rickman and Howard Carrier
The past seven years have witnessed some important developments in the ways that clients can pay their lawyers in England and Wales. These include the introduction of conditional fees (CFAs), changes to the legal aid scheme, and the growing influence of insurers in the legal marketplace.
This study collected data on over 700 cases closed mainly during 2000 and 2001, using a stratified, clustered sample design to draw inferences about the population of solicitors doing personal injury work. It portrays a 'mixed economy' of fee arrangements. The research provides a useful benchmark against which to assess subsequent changes.
Under the conditions applying at the time covered by the research:
Private client hourly fee cases were characterised by defendants who admitted a much higher proportion of liability . they were less 'risky' than CFA cases.
CFA cases appeared to be relatively complex and 'risky' compared with hourly fee and referral company schemes and broadly comparable with legal aid cases.
Confirming previous evidence, settlement timing was highly sensitive to the parties' prior estimates about the likely outcome in court, with respect to both quantum and liability.
Although their advertising reach may have induced claims from people otherwise unaware of the potential of CFAs, the services provided by referral agents were relatively costly to clients and yielded less in terms of settlement awards even though their caseload was one of relatively low risk.
No 7/2002 - The Impact of Sources of Finance on Personal Injury Litigation: An Empirical Analysis - by Paul Fenn, Alastair Gray and Neil Rickman
This study, undertaken in 1999, explored the possible explanation of weak incentives on legally-aided plaintiffs and their solicitors to reach settlement.
The research used two unique data sets to investigate, within a framework of economic theory, the issue in the context of personal injury litigation. Main findings related to the duration from claim to settlement, where it was found that, controlling for other factors such as case severity, legal aid finance significantly increased delay in comparison with private finance.
The outcomes of this study suggest that the behaviour of litigants and their representatives is clearly influenced by the way financial risks are shared.
No 8/2002 - Lay and Judicial Perspectives on the Expansion of the Small Claims Regime - by Professor John Baldwin
The small claims regime in England and Wales has been designed specifically with litigants in person in mind. It provides a cheap and simple mechanism by which people who are unfamiliar with legal procedures can bring their disputes to court. The financial limit in small claims rose from £1,000 to £3,000 in January 1996 and then to £5,000 in April 1999. Only personal injury and housing repair cases (where the limit remains £1,000) have been excluded from this expansion.
This report considers the consequences of the rise in the small claims limit from £3,000 to £5,000 from the perspective of both litigants and district judges. It found that:
More commercial litigants are involved in claims in the £3,000-£5,000 bracket than is the case at lower levels and more litigants take legal advice about their cases.
District judges' enthusiasm for the informal 'interventionist' approach in small claims remains strong and it is evident that they have taken the rise very much in their stride.
The effects of the increase have been absorbed without serious disruption in county courts.
The report cautions against a further increase in the limit but discusses raising the £1,000 limit in personal injury claims (with modification of the existing small claims costs structure.)
No 9/2002 - The Impact on the Courts and the Administration of Justice of the Human Rights Act 1998 - by John Raine, University of Birmingham and Clive Walker, University of Leeds
This report describes the findings of a research project designed to assess the impacts on courts of the implementation of the Human Rights Act 1998.
The project examined the planning and preparation work undertaken by courts and related agencies in the period ahead of implementation of the Act; the effects immediately after implementation (in October 2000); and the position almost a year later to assess the longer term impacts. The research included both qualitative and quantitative methods.
A particular priority for this study was the effect of the legislation on court workloads (Crown, County and magistrates courts).
No 10/2002 - Safety and Child Contact: an analysis of the role of child contact centres in the context of domestic violence and child welfare concerns - by Dr Rosemary Aris, Christine Harrison & Dr Cathy Humphreys, University of Warwick
What promotes safe and positive contact for children following parental separation, that is also consistent with the safety and well being of women (and some men) where domestic violence is an issue?
This is the over-arching question addressed by this research report.
The study explores the views and experiences of children, women and men using six child contact centres. It also assesses knowledge and practice in relation to domestic violence and its impact on contact arrangements, from the perspectives of legal and welfare professionals and contact centre workers in two family proceedings jurisdictions.
The report highlights significant disparities in views, both within and between groups of professionals and workers in this area. These mirror the very marked differences between mothers and fathers in relation to their views about their children's best interests and the persisting significance of domestic violence.
The research concludes that in a significant minority of the contact arrangements studied, the safety and well-being of women and children was compromised.
The study is directly relevant to continuing discussions about child contact, and the implications for policy and practice in this contentious area are discussed.
No 11/2002 - Housing possession cases in the county court: Perceptions and experiences of black and minority ethnic defendants - by Sarah Blandy, Caroline Hunter, Diane Lister, Lisa Naylor and Judy Nixon, Sheffield Hallam University
This research examines how far the experience of defendants in housing possession cases is affected by their ethnicity. In particular it explores the perceptions, experiences and understanding of the court functions and processes amongst black and minority ethnic (BME) defendants and more widely within their communities. It also compares the experience of BME and white defendants of the possession process.
Drawing on court records, individual interviews and focus groups the study found that for both white and BME defendants their experiences leading up to eviction processes and the possession proceedings itself were very similar. Those BME defendants who attended court did not feel they had been treated unfairly because of their race.
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