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86 courts and tribunals to close

Law Society disappointed by response to consultation

Shailesh Vara, Minister for the Courts and Legal Aid, has announced by ministerial statement that 86 courts and tribunals will close.

In July 2015 a consultation was launched on proposals to close 91 courts and tribunals in England and Wales. Over 2,100 separate responses were received, along with 13 petitions containing over 10,000 signatures.

Mr Vara said:

"64 sites will close as proposed in the consultation. A further 22 closures will take place but with changes to the original proposals. These changes, many suggested by respondents, include the identification of suitable alternative venues, such as local civic buildings; or different venues in the HMCTS estate to those originally proposed.

"On average, the 86 courts we are closing are used for just over a third of their available hearing time. That is equivalent to less than 2 days a week. It will still be the case that after these closures, over 97% of citizens will be able to reach their required court within an hour by car. This represents a change of just 1 percentage points for both criminal and County Courts. The proportion able to reach a tribunal within an hour by car will remain unchanged at 83%."

The Law Society Gazette quotes Law Society president Jonathan Smithers who said:

"We are disappointed that the government is pressing ahead with the closure of so many courts. The majority of these closures will make it more difficult for a significant number of people to get to court, disproportionately affecting people living in rural areas, those with disabilities and lower income families."

For the ministerial statement, click here. For the article in The Law Society Gazette, click here.