In a written ministerial statement Shailesh Vara has announced the consultation on the closure of 91 courts and tribunals in England and Wales. This follows on from the announcement made by the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Justice the 23rd June 2015 that there needed to be reform of courts and tribunals in order to have a quicker and fairer access to justice.
Progress has already been made on this front by modernising the service provided. This includes installing Wi-Fi and digital screens in court buildings and implementing a digital case management system for the administration of criminal cases.
This is encouraging progress, but more needs to be done. There is a broad consensus that the current system is unsustainable and that we have an opportunity to create a modern, more user-focused and efficient service. Increased use of technology such as video, telephone and online conferencing will help drive these improvements.
However, in addition to these changes courts and tribunals must be closed in order to reduce the cost of the estate and to reinvest the savings. At present Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service operates 460 courts and tribunals across England and Wales which costs the taxpayers approximately half a billion pounds each year despite the fact that last year, over a third of all courts were empty for more than fifty per cent of hearing time.
For the entire article, visit Family Law’s website.
For the consultation, visit the Digital Communication on Justice’s website.