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County Court holidays

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  • County Court holidays

    I am a Claimant in an action against a travel company, which has been set down for hearing in the County Court with the trial window starting at the beginning of June. Being a LIP, I do NOT want to upset the Court by not being available. However, I cannot find out when the County Courts are typically sitting during the summer, and so it is very difficult to make any holiday plans. I fully understand that each County Court makes its own arrangements, but there is presumably some sort of template which they use as a starting point.

    So I would be grateful if anyone could give me a very rough idea of what holidays County Courts typically take in the summer, so that I can take it into account when making my own holiday plans - with Covid-19 restrictions, they are unlikely to be very adventurous anyway ! The case is due to be heard before a District Judge or Recorder, if that is any help. Is there any month when it would be safe to book a holiday and be sure the County Court is unlikely to be sitting ?

    The odds are already stacked hugely against me just because I am a hated litigant in person, right or wrong, but I simply cannot afford to be represented, because it would double my costs risks. I am not trying to be a b***** know-it-all, but the costs risk is bad enough being a LIP without having to pay my own legal representation costs on top if I were to lose. But that is no reason to deny access to justice, and I have a more than a 50% chance of winning - in fact, I cannot see what the defence is ! That may sound cocky but I am very aware of the dangers of being cocky. And not being able to foresee the Defence is a worry, although of course I already have their formal defence. I am naturally worried that they may be intending to pull a rabbit out of the hat, but I have scoured their defence to find anything at all to be worried about. I am hoping that they are not allowed to enter some new defence at the last moment to knock me off my guard. In this case, the facts speak for themselves.

    Back to my question ! Can anyone give me an idea of roughly when the County Court is unlikely to be sitting ?

    Thanks.
    Tags: None

  • #2
    See the link below, Paragraph 3.2 explains this. County Courts sit throughout the year but can I ask, why didn't you put something on the directions questionnaire? There's a question on form N180 and 181 that asks whether you or any witnesses will not be available within the next 6/12 months so if you didn't put anything in there, then the court will assume you are available at any time.

    https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/pr...pd_part02a#3.1
    If you have a question about the voluntary termination process, please read this guide first, as it should have all the answers you need. Please do not hijack another person's thread as I will not respond to you
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    LEGAL DISCLAIMER
    Please be aware that this is a public forum and is therefore accessible to anyone. The content I post on this forum is not intended to be legal advice nor does it establish any client-lawyer type relationship between you and me. Therefore any use of my content is at your own risk and I cannot be held responsible in any way. It is always recommended that you seek independent legal advice.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for that link. I had read 3.2 before but I did not comprehend the meaning of the word "Open" to be the same as "sitting". So, I get the impression from what you have said that the judges will be sitting throughout the summer, albeit not in full numbers due to holidays. On the other hand, while my claim was made in the County Court, it is being heard by a district judge or a recorder.

      I am sorry but you have also misunderstood me. I understood that the N180 is only for the Small Claims Track, whereas my claim is in the Multi-track. The last Order in March this year requires the parties to give the Court a list of dates to avoid now, with a trial windows commencing in June. So I have not been due to give any dates to avoid until now.

      Ideally I would like to try to get away in the summer but I have no specific plans. Before responding to the Court, I wanted to know the position. There would be no point in giving a date in August to avoid if the Court would not be sitting. The only commitment which I have is not until October, but that might also not come off if Covid-19 restrictions are re-imposed - I fear that there is going to be another spike and another shut-down, largely due to irresponsibility. However, I will include it now as dates to avoid.

      The other side has just sent me their list of dates to avoid which are, frankly, unreasonable as they effectively exclude anything happening before the beginning of November, which would be seven months since the pre-trial review ! That seems a little unfair to me, although I suspect they are deliberately trying to buy time in the hopes that I will give up, which I will not. So my list will just have my annual holiday in October, which I have booked and paid for, while their list effectively blocks out the entire summer and early autumn ! Not very balanced. I imagine that there is nothing I can do to complain about it. I thought about complaining to the judge, but I do not want to jeopardise his goodwill and so have not done so.
      Last edited by Thirlestaine; 14th April 2021, 09:43:AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        In England and Wales, there is a "legal year" which is divided into four terms where there will be judicial sittings, that is judges actually sit to hear cases. Depending on the court, judges are expected to sit for a certain number of days in the year and if I recall district/circuit judges are expected to sit for a minimum of 200+ days.

        However, as far as I am aware, the terms only apply to the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The number of sittings are determined by s.3 of the County Courts Act 1984 but there is nothing I can find that suggests County Courts will only sit at certain times of the year in the same way the superior courts do, other than the expected number of days judges are expected to commit to.

        If you have issue with the dates provided by the other side then why not write to the judge (and copy other side in) and express your concerns with the dates given, and perhaps ask the court to order the other side to explain why it is unable to be available at any time for the next 7 months. Suspect that it could be due to witness availability but if it's because they have instructed a barrister who is not available until then, that may not be a valid excuse and I'm fairly sure there's been a couple of High Court cases where judges have refused to delay/adjourn trials the basis that other barristers could be instructed and be available for a sooner trial date especially if the claim is not particularly complex.
        If you have a question about the voluntary termination process, please read this guide first, as it should have all the answers you need. Please do not hijack another person's thread as I will not respond to you
        - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
        LEGAL DISCLAIMER
        Please be aware that this is a public forum and is therefore accessible to anyone. The content I post on this forum is not intended to be legal advice nor does it establish any client-lawyer type relationship between you and me. Therefore any use of my content is at your own risk and I cannot be held responsible in any way. It is always recommended that you seek independent legal advice.

        Comment


        • #5
          Very helpful. I have done that and sent him a sort of spreadsheet which lists all their witnesses, solicitor and barrister's availability dates and then mine alongside. I have only two weeks at the end of October to be avoided - and even that is subject to Covid travel restrictions being lifted ! Nothing more. Theirs are all full of dates, in particular the solicitor and barrister (they obviously work together as specialists in this field and their dates are the same). The solicitor and barrister completely block off the whole of June, the whole of July, half of August, and most of September ! Then it is difficult for witnesses in October without clashing with my holiday plans ! So I have done what you have recommended and await the Judge's reaction. I will keep you posted.

          In the meantime, I am working on my skeleton argument and preparing my case. Can you tell me what the order of the hearing will be ? I am assuming / planning that I will open the case, make my initial arguments and then ask for my only witness. I presume that she will then be cross-examined by the other side, and I will then be able to re-examine. I assume that her witness statement will be taken as her evidence, and I will not be able to ask her anything about it until after she has been cross-examined.

          Presumably, after that it is their turn. I assume again that they introduce their defence, then put up their first of three witnesses. I cross-examine them in turn, and they can be re-examined by the Defence.

          What happens after that. Do I get a chance to enlarge my argument following the evidence before making a final "speech", followed by them ? I assume they will also be able to embellish their defence. But who goes first ?

          I am hoping that is the rough order of events because I want to prepare carefully for each stage.

          As always, very grateful for any information.

          Comment

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