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:disclosure of documents relied upon, together with voluntary and Court ordered disclosure against requests for disclosure by the other party. The procedure recognises that comprehensive document disclosure and a full, oral trial on all issues is often not necessary for justice to be achieved.

This is good news for the speed of justice.

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ALBERTO MUNNO, a judge in the southern Italian city of Taranto, believes he is being oppressed by his country’s justice system. He has a rather good case. “I produce 160 verdicts per year—and the European Convention on Human Rights bans slavery,” he complains. With a backlog of over 500 cases, the overworked judge recently postponed a civil hearing by three years. The owner of the firm involved, who filed a claim for €200,000 ($220,000) in 2014, will now have to wait until 2019 to have his case heard. It takes on average 1,210 days for Italy’s judges to resolve a typical commercial dispute. Though notorious for their lethargy, Italy’s courts are not Europe’s worst offenders. Slovenia’s take even longer. Cyprus’s can take over three years, more than thrice the wait in Germany and France.
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