Dispute Resolution, Litigation & Family Lawyers – Survey Report
Overwhelmingly, respondents are confident that they will see a rise in cases over the next 6 months, with commercial litigation and dispute resolution named by 71% of those surveyed as the area of work most likely to increase. An expected spike in contract disputes came second on the list, closely followed by debt recovery. Perhaps not surprisingly given the stress families have been under during lockdown, almost half of the respondents reported signs of an increase in divorce cases.
Despite the expectation of increased workload, most lawyers surveyed plan to fill any resource gap internally by working longer hours and utilising existing staff, with only one in four expecting to recruit externally in the next 6 months.
More than two out of three solicitors surveyed felt that the courts are not sufficiently prepared to deal with the backlog of cases caused by their closure and a similar number thought that the civil courts are not sufficiently prepared to operate virtually should social distancing measures continue for the foreseeable future. Over 80% of respondents thought that the courts should allow clients to be represented remotely in civil courts to reduce the backlog with two out of three respondents suggesting that full proofs should be run remotely.
Two-thirds of the dispute resolution solicitors asked, thought the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) could assist in the reduction of the court backlog but only half of family solicitors. Of the possible methods of ADR, mediation was seen as being by far the most likely (84%), followed by arbitration (52%) and expert determination (29%).