Things can only get better… 2013 Court Services Satisfaction Survey paints grim picture ahead of 25th CCUA Annual Conference, 15th October 2013

One year after a damning report on the state of the court service in the UK, a new satisfaction survey conducted by the CCUA (Civil Court Users Association) with the support of Lovetts Plc, the debt recovery law firm, has painted a similarly grim picture with either no improvement or a further deterioration in service levels. An overview of the findings has been released ahead of the CCUA’s 25th Annual Conference taking place at the Leicester Marriott Hotel on 15th and 16th October 2013.

The survey was completed by 49 major corporate and legal firms representing the UK’s largest users of the court service – the majority of whom use the court services on a daily basis. Their participation in itself demonstrates the depth of feeling about the service levels being experienced.

Respondents were asked to rate the quality of service provided by the CCBC (County Court Bulk Centre), local county courts and the CCMCC (County Court Money Claims Centre) over the 6 months from January to June 2013 and whether they had improved, stayed the same or deteriorated.

Brian Havercroft, Chairman of the CCUA said: “Last year we conducted the first ever satisfaction survey amongst court users. The findings were so shocking we wanted to repeat the exercise this year to establish whether any improvements had been made. To say this year’s survey responses are disappointing is an understatement. Feedback suggests there has been very little improvement and in some areas service levels have actually declined further. Staff knowledge at the CCBC is identified as a particular area of weakness with a marked deterioration in service levels compared to other aspects of the service. Just as an example, 2-5 minutes is the typical waiting time for phone calls to be answered by 24 of the firms and 12 of the firms who answered the survey typically wait over 5 minutes.”

The picture isn’t any better from the feedback on the local county courts. Just over 60% felt the speed and efficiency of services had worsened. Furthermore, 71% had experienced lack of response to correspondence and emails and over 60% had been inconvenienced by lost documentation.

Users of the CCMCC faced similar issues with problems experienced across all areas, however most worryingly the biggest concerns surrounded Claims and Judgments – the core purpose of their service.

Charles Wilson, Chairman of Lovetts adds: “Last year in a speech at the CCUA Conference, I reported on the dismal findings of the first survey – it was a very clear call for action and prompted a great deal of debate. It seems abundantly clear that the court service has failed to grasp the nettle and the reputation of many UK businesses continues to be unfairly damaged because of the failings of the system. It’s about time the court service got to grips with the management challenges it faces and acted on this damning feedback.”