The County Courts Act 1984 has been amended to create a single county court. Hitherto s.1 of the CCA divided England and Wales up into districts and established a court of record, with a seal, for each district. Under s.A1 there is now to be a single court called ‘the County Court’ which is to have a seal and be a court of record. Geographical boundaries between the 170 existing courts are removed but the new single County Court will sit in locations designated by the Lord Chancellor, which, until changed, will include all former county court locations.
The purpose of the change has been to facilitate the centralisation of the administrative work of the county courts.
The language we use is to change. We will no longer refer to ‘a county court’ but ‘the County Court’. Part 30 will change to refer to a transfer to a ‘County Court hearing centre’ and cases will no longer be transferred ‘between’ county courts but ‘within the County Court’. Previously reference would be made to ‘the Bristol County Court’ but it will now be made to ‘the County Court sitting at Bristol’.
The amendments have been made to the CCA by Part 2 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 and to the CPR by the Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2014 (SI 2014/407). One amendment of particular interest is to the value of claims in the High Court: r. 16.3(5)(a) has been changed to increase the threshold for claims in the High Court from £25,000 to £100,000. However curiously there has been no amendment to the personal injury threshold of £50,000 which stays the same for the time being.The rules come into force from 22nd April 2014. Whether the White, Green, Brown or other books containing the civil procedure rules will have all the changes in them will shortly be revealed.