UCL Faculty of Laws


Dr Byrom gives evidence to Commons Justice Committee as part of their inquiry into the County Court

9 May 2024

Dr Byrom appeared before the Justice Committee as part of their ongoing inquiry into the work of the County Court. The inquiry was initiated in response to growing concern about delays and their impact on access to justice.

Dr Natalie Byrom

On Tuesday 7 May, Dr Natalie Byrom (Honorary Senior Research Fellow at UCL Laws) spoke at the first evidence session of the Justice Committee’s inquiry on the Work of the County Court. MPs on the cross-party committee heard from lawyers and academics on the current level of delays in the County Court in England and Wales and discussed the factors contributing to the increase.

Dr Byrom spoke about why the County Court matters and the issues with the data that currently exists to understand delays and improve the system.

Dr Byrom said: “The County Court is often, rather dismissively, referred to as the part of the justice system that deals with “high volume, low value” cases. This description is however, only partly accurate. The issues that the County Court deals with, day in, day out, are high volume, high impact problems, for the economy, and for public trust and confidence in the system and most importantly, for the people who experience them. That’s why the current crisis matters and why it merits your attention.”  

She also spoke about constitiutional reforms to the governance of the court service that might be needed to ensure the system is fit for purpose going forward, citing work by Dr John Sorabji (Associate Professor at UCL Laws).

The evidence was primarily based on the findings of her recent report commissioned by the Nuffield Foundation, entitled ‘Where has my Justice gone?’. The report provides a data led overview of the current issues facing access to justice in England and Wales and Identifies gaps in existing data and evidence which impede our collective ability to address these issues. In total, the research identified  47 data and 80 key evidence gaps, with the civil and administrative justice system in general and the County Court in particular disproportionately affected. The report also reviews the systemic and constitutional challenges that undermine our ability to resolve existing issues and makes recommendations for how these challenges might be addressed.

Dr Byrom said: “The report serves as both a call to action and the basis for an agenda, which, if delivered by researchers and implemented by policymakers, would transform the experience of the justice system for those who rely on it.”

A recording of the session is available on Parliamentlive.tv.