§ 5.35 p.m.
§ The Lord Chancellor rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 25th November be approved [5th Report from the Joint Committee].
§ The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, the draft order contains three amendments to the High Court and County Courts Jurisdiction Order.
§ The first amendment, Article 2, will give the county courts jurisdiction to determine applications under Sections 13 and 14 of the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996. This will not confer a new area of jurisdiction on the county courts, but will maintain their current jurisdiction. The amendment is necessary because in January 1997, Section 14 of the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 will replace Section 30 of the Law of Property Act 1925, under which the county courts currently have a jurisdiction not limited by the value of the property. I wish to retain this unlimited jurisdiction for the county court in these matters.
§ Section 30 concerns applications to the court in the event of a dispute about the exercise of their powers by trustees for sale. Section 14 of the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 directly replaces Section 30. Section 13 of the 1996 Act enables the court to approve the regulations by trustees of land of the right to occupy any land subject to the trust conferred by Section 12 of the Act. There will frequently be a great deal of overlap between an application under this section 907 and an application under Section 14. It would be appropriate, therefore, for the county court to have the same jurisdiction.
§ The second amendment, Article 3, will enable a larger proportion of county court creditors to opt for enforcement by sheriffs. At present, only creditors with a county court judgment for more than £2,000 may currently transfer to the High Court for execution against goods to be carried out by the sheriffs, rather than the county court bailiffs. Article 3 reduces the limit for such transfers to £1,000.
§ The third amendment, Article 4, relates to the county courts' jurisdiction in road traffic debt cases. This involves the registration of parking penalty charges in the county court for enforcement. The Road Traffic Act 1991 provides for the resolution of any disputes about the penalty charges, which require the personal attendance of the vehicle owner, to be dealt with not by the county courts but by a separate adjudication system. This scheme was initially confined to the London boroughs, but has now been extended to areas outside London. The jurisdiction order currently confers jurisdiction only on Cardiff County Court for the registration and recovery of parking penalty charges. Registration is a process facilitated by a computer system which many participating local authorities use. That computer system was located in Cardiff County Court but is now in Northampton County Court which houses the Court Service's other centralised county court computer systems. Article 4 allows this system to issue proceedings in the name of Northampton County Court in order to bring together the judicial and administrative functions.
§ Article 1 cites the dates when the amendments I have outlined shall come into force. I commend this measure to your Lordships. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 25th November be approved [5th Report from the Joint Committee].—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.