The way that small claims are dealt with has prompted enormous interest in many jurisdictions, yet the subject has been neglected by researchers in this country. We should not doubt the importance of these procedures, however. It is increasingly seen as a convenient expedient in tackling the crisis in civil justice, and with a massive increase in the small claims limit from £1,000 to £3,000 in January 1996, small claims have suddenly become big judicial business. This book (based on research conducted over a two-year period and funded by the Lord Chancellor's Department, the Office of Fair Trading and the Economic and Social Research Council) presents the most extensive empirical research analysis of small claims procedures ever
undertaken in this country. The theoretical and practical implications of moves to expand the scope of 'Do-it-yourself' justice are explored. The author had privileged access to the district court judges who conduct claim hearings, and the book is the first to include lengthy extracts from tape recorded interviews with them. It also includes discussion of interviews with litigants, including many who struggled to gain payment of court judgments.
Readership: Scholars and students of civil procedure, socio-legal studies and the administration of law.
John Baldwin, Professor of Law and Director of the Institute of Judicial Administration, University of Birmingham
"John Baldwin's study ... is a timely one ... This is a thoughtful and insightful study of the small-claims procedure in England and Wales which questions many assumptions about the process ... There is much for the policy maker and theorist to reflect on in this small volume. It should surely make both groups think hard about the instrumental and symbolic role of courts and what the idea of access to justice might mean for different groups within the community. It will also provide a platform for the future development of both ethnographic and empirical analysis of the role of the courts and tribunals in providing for the ordinary individual. For all these reasons it is an excellent addition to the Oxford socio-legal series." - Iain Ramsey,
Journal of Law and Society, vol 25 1998
"splendid study/ Philip Evans, Secretary of the Certified Bailiffs Assoc, writing in the letters page of Credit Today, May 1999."
"Anybody reading this book would find it both a thorough and indeed enjoyable and entertaining account of small claims practice... an interesting and provocative book. It remains of interest despite jurisdictional and procedural changes." - Craig Osborne, Criminal Justice Quarterly
"It's a countrywide problem, according to Professor John Baldwin, head of the school of law at Birmingham University, and author of Small Claims in the County Courts in England and Wales - The Bargain Basement of British Justice." - Christopher Middleton, The Guardian
One: Introduction and Background: The Development of Small Claims in England and Wales
Two: Background to the Study: The County Court Files
Three: The District Judge's Role at Small Claims Hearings
Four: Litigants' Perceptions of Small Claims
Five: The Enforcement of Small Claims Judgments