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Small Claims Courts

Volume 893: debated on Monday 9 June 1975

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asked the Attorney-General if he will introduce legislation to extend the system of small claims courts which exclude legal representation.

No, Sir. My noble Friend the Lord Chancellor is satisfied that the county courts, in which a new procedure to deal with small claims was introduced in October, 1973, meet the need for a forum for the disposal of small claims. The rules discourage legal representation in those cases where it is uneconomic or unnecessary.

Does my hon. and learned Friend not agree that the £75 limit for small claims in the county court is far too low? Does he not agree that it should be possible for claims involving sums larger than £75 to go to court without fear of having to meet the costs of lawyers engaged by well-heeled opponents? Is it not time that a Labour Government made civil claims open to all, without involving the fat fees which are so often payable to members of the legal profession?

My noble Friend the Lord Chancellor has invited the County Courts Rules Committee to consider increasing the £75 limit, and that will go a long way to meet my hon. Friend's point.