A consultation paper, Civil warrant performance indicator – information for customers, asks for comments on the proposals and for information that would be useful to customers of the county courts that enforce judgments. The paper suggests a method for evaluating how effectively warrants are executed by the county courts.
Warrants are documents issued by courts authorising acts to enforce court orders. A warrant of arrest, for example, authorises a bailiff or police officer to carry out an arrest, and others authorise the recovery of goods, or evictions.
Currently, the Court Service measures and reports on the effectiveness of warrants in four ways – value of correctly directed warrants of execution recovered, value of all warrants recovered, and percentage and value of correctly directed warrants of execution executed within six to 12 weeks.
It is proposed that warrants should be reported within different, detailed value bands and that those issued in Consumer Credit Act cases are identified separately within value bands below and above £5,000.
Constitutional affairs minister Christopher Leslie says: “This government is committed to providing excellent public services in the county courts. In an increasingly consumer conscious environment, we need to ensure those who use the county courts are given the information they need to help them make informed choices and comparisons between the services that are on offer for enforcing their claims. Local managers also need good information tools to allow them to improve local services.
“The proposals in this consultation paper seek to lay the foundations for a suite of measures that should achieve this but should also ensure that the confidence of those using the county courts is not only retained but increased.”
The current warrant enforcement indicators are used by creditors and local court managers to assess the effectiveness of county courts in carrying out warrants.
Proposals on measuring bailiffs' success in evictions and recovery of goods will also benefit landlords and mortgage providers. Recovering goods and carrying out evictions is a significant part of the work of county court bailiffs but no data is currently collected in this area.
The proposed performance indicators will start being used in April next year, when Her Majesty's Courts Service comes into operation.
The consultation paper also proposes that far more information on warrant collection is gathered, and asks what information should be made available to bailiffs from creditors to help them carry out risk assessments before evictions.