What do users need from the civil justice system
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What do users need from the civil justice system?. Sarah O’Neill Head of Policy Solicitor [email protected] www.consumerfocus-scotland.org.uk. Civil Justice Advisory Group Consultation Seminar 13 September 2010. ‘ The structural and functional flaws in the working of

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What do users need from the civil justice system?

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What do users need from the civil justice system

What do users need from the civil justice system?

Sarah O’Neill

Head of Policy

Solicitor

[email protected]

www.consumerfocus-scotland.org.uk

Civil Justice Advisory Group Consultation Seminar

13 September 2010


What do users need from the civil justice system

‘The structural and functional flaws in the working of

the Scottish civil courts prevent the courts from

delivering the quality of justice to which the public is

entitled. The Scottish civil courts provide a service to

the public that is slow, inefficient and expensive. Their

procedures are antiquated and the range of remedies

that they can give is inadequate. In short, they are

failing to deliver justice.’

(Foreword, Gill review final report)


The reality for users

The reality for users

Source: The views and experiences of civil court users, Ipsos Mori- commissioned by the Scottish Consumer Council and Scottish Legal Aid Board (2009)

Source: Mediation in Action: Resolving Court Disputes Without Trial, Genn, H. (1999)

‘I was actually shaking to be quite honest with you….What was going to happen to me, was I going to go to jail?... I was sitting outside the court room and I was biting my nails…and I was actually crying.. Nobody had said what would happen to me’.

‘If you haven’t done it before, it can be quite intimidating when you walk in….you look in front of you and it’s just full of solicitors…I mean it’s bad enough having to bring an action and getting to that level without then standing there and feeling that you’re in the wrong’.


What do users need

What do users need?

  • 1. The skills and knowledge that allow them to:

  • recognise that they have a problem

  • recognise that problem has a potential legal remedy

  • identify a course of action to pursue that remedy


What do users need from the civil justice system

Experience and circumstances

Personality

Knowledge and understanding

Skills

Confidence and attitudes

Behaviour

Legal capability

The information and advice environment

Source: Measuring Financial Capability: an exploratory study, Financial Services Authority,. 2005


What do users need1

What do users need?

2. Access to appropriate advice and assistance when they need it

‘You get the kind of ‘ostrich effect’

where you shove your head in the

sand and you think it’s just going to

blow away and it doesn’t. And the

longer you leave it obviously the

arrears are mounting and mounting.’

Source: The views and experiences of civil court users, Ipsos Mori- commissioned by the Scottish Consumer Council and Scottish Legal Aid Board (2009


What do users need2

What do users need?

3. Access to less formal means of resolving their disputes

  • those who have used mediation are very positive about the process and the results

  • over half of those with a dispute would prefer it to be dealt with through mediation

  • those who resolve their dispute through agreement are more likely to think the resolution was fair

  • but issues of awareness and availability


What do users need3

What do users need?

  • 4. More user-friendly formal

  • dispute resolution mechanisms

  • More information about the process

  • Less formality and legal jargon

  • Quicker and cheaper


More information about the process

More information about the process

‘ I just had the court date and turned up and eventually one of the court clerks or somebody came over and said ‘what case are you here for and what’s it about?’ and I told them and they said ‘oh that was dealt with a few days ago, you didn’t have to come to court….I wasn’t informed about that, so that was another day off work.’

‘I thought they would have sent me a letter to remind me and when I’m back up again and what time.’

‘It’s always ten o’clock and it’s always on a Thursday, but you can sit there for two hours.’

Source: The views and experiences of civil court users, Ipsos Mori- commissioned by the Scottish Consumer Council and Scottish Legal Aid Board (2009


Less formality legal jargon

Less formality/legal jargon

‘ They seem to use a lot of legal jargon…I’m pretty much a straight talking person. I’m not one for the words that they use…I could possibly have used the wrong word or put it in a different way and it wouldn’t have helped me.’

‘It seemed a bit vague, you know, as to whether, you know, you’re the claimant and defenders and things like that. It was all new to us, because we’d never been to court before.’

Source: The views and experiences of civil court users, Ipsos Mori- commissioned by the Scottish Consumer Council and Scottish Legal Aid Board (2009


Quicker and cheaper

Quicker and cheaper

‘it’s not good because it’s something that’s been playing on your mind all the time, you don’t enjoy your holidays and you think….maybe I shouldn’t go on holiday, maybe a letter will come in from the court and I won’t be there to see it myself, and, you know, it was something that was hanging over me for about six months.’

‘To me, it should all have been resolved within at least a month. I think it took two or three months before it was resolved.’

‘ my biggest worry was that somehow I would lose and then I would have to pay for the costs, like for the other costs of their lawyers’.

Source: The views and experiences of civil court users, Ipsos Mori- commissioned by the Scottish Consumer Council and Scottish Legal Aid Board (2009


A public service

A public service

public

‘The civil justice system is a vital which underpins our daily lives. It supports our family and business relationships, it protects our legal rights, and it helps us solve our legal problems.’

(Cathy Jamieson MSP, Minister for Justice, 2005)

service


What do users need from the civil justice system1

What do users need from the civil justice system?

Sarah O’Neill

Head of Policy

Solicitor

[email protected]

www.consumerfocus-scotland.org.uk

Civil Justice Advisory Group Consultation Seminar

13 September 2010


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