Staggering incompetence of the court service shows not everything is better online

Has anyone else had to contend with the monument to incompetence that is HM Courts and Tribunal Service’s online claim system?

I was advised to use this at the beginning of the year to address the Labour Party’s own lamentable mistreatment of me, that led to my expulsion from that organisation in November 2018. As the party had not followed its own procedures properly, I could sue for breach of contract and have the decision reversed.

I duly filed a claim on March 15 this year – and the instant I did so, the site went down.

I immediately emailed HMCTS to check that my claim had been received and all was well, and received a standard response saying I would receive a response within 10 days.

Then I had to deal with the false libel claim against me by two TV personalities. This vexatious nonsense took up a considerable amount of what little spare time I had, and I was unable to follow up on my query after the requisite 10 days passed. I did, however, notice that HMCTS had taken its fee from my bank account.

But I had heard nothing more of the matter by mid-April, and when the website finally came back up I found that my claim still presented itself as a draft – and this raised my suspicions again. In a spare moment I emailed HMCTS with all the information I had, asking what was happening with my claim.

Another long silence.

Then on June 5 I received a response! Nearly three months after I made my claim, HMCTS finally deigned to respond – with a request for information I did not have. Apparently non of the reference numbers I had provided made sense to the organisation – even though I was quoting its own numbers to it. I had to write back, explaining:

Your website crashed after I submitted it and is now claiming that it is merely a draft claim. But you took my money so clearly something else happened. Should I re-submit my claim (in the knowledge that your website is prone to crashing and may do so again)? If so, I will not want to pay another £25. Will you refund the amount paid on March 15? And how do you propose to compensate me for the delay? This matter has been left hanging for three months, because your site crashed and you could not respond until now.”

The follow-up response was a little quicker than the initial one – but I still didn’t receive it until today:

“Please click on the draft claim and submit again without entering any payment details. Only a single (original) payment should be taken and the claim will progress through. Should a second payment be taken, this is unlikely, this will be refunded into your account within a few days.

“Please note that claims remain in draft for a total of 90 days, after this they time they automatically expire.”

June 17 is 94 days from the date I submitted my claim.

I have written another email: “You have contacted me after the 90-day period my claim was permitted to remain in draft form expired. It no longer exists on the website.

“This will make it extremely difficult for me to submit it according to the terms you have described. Impossible, in fact.

“May I ask what is the point of offering me a solution that cannot be honoured?

“As I am sure you are aware, the process of drafting a claim on your site is long and detailed, and I am appalled at the thought that I will have to go through it all again… I also think I am well within my rights to say that my treatment by your service has been entirely unsatisfactory.

“I await a new proposal to resolve this matter.”

A website that crashes; contradictory reference numbers; an offer of resolution sent after it became unworkable – these are demonstrations of incompetence.

I am fast losing my faith in the ability of our law guardians to uphold their obligations.

To put it another way:

I’m fuming.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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8 thoughts on “Staggering incompetence of the court service shows not everything is better online

  1. First Night Design

    I’m not at all surprised you’re fuming in the face of such an appalling service on top of everything else you have to deal with. Who wouldn’t be? Hold strong, Mike, and my best wishes to you and Mrs Mike.

  2. Jonathan Maher

    Mike, you should share this with The Secret Barrister, they have been dealing with HMCTS useless It systems for years.
    Maybe they could provide some publicity to push HMCTS to act.

  3. FishTaco

    I feel your pain. I’m a public servant and i’m assuming HMCTS has gone the same way as other departments: underfunded, understaffed, mismanaged etc. Long waits and website glitches are to be expected. The person who picks up your email won’t be able to do much about that.

    Your case may also be deprioritised due to the fact that the government won’t give the civil service the resources it needs to deal with everything in a timely manner. You should keep plugging away but don’t hold your breath. Neoliberalism and austerity have brought this country to a grinding halt.

  4. Ultraviolet

    I would have thought this amounts to maladministration, for which you can claim compensation via the Ombudsman. You would need to make a formal complaint first, and if that does not generate a satisfactory response, you can make the complaint to the Ombudsman via your MP.

    It’s not just you. Parliament already has its eye on them. The National Audit Office, the Public Accounts Committee and the Justice Select Committee have all been taking an interest in the Court service recently.

    And there is this:

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I don’t have an MP at the moment – I’m in Brecon and Radnorshire and there’s currently a petition being signed calling for the removal of the incumbent, convicted fraudster Chris Davies. Looks like I might be in for a long wait!

Comments are closed.