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MoJ plans to close 91 courts

Consultation ends 8th October 2015

The Ministry of Justice has launched a consultation into the proposed closure of 91 courts across England and Wales.

Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service operates 460 courts and tribunal hearing centres across England and Wales. The estate costs taxpayers around half a billion pounds each year, and at present, the MoJ says that it is underused. Last year over a third of all courts and tribunals were empty for more than fifty per cent of their available hearing time.

This consultation puts forward proposals that aim to reduce surplus capacity by closing those courts and tribunals that are unused or underused, or that are considered as simply unsuitable for the services we need to provide from them.

The consultation covers the proposed closure of:

The specific courts are set out within the document.

The buildings being consulted on represent 16% of hearing rooms across the estate which are, on average, used for only a third of their available time. That is equivalent to fewer than 2 out of 5 days in a week.

The majority of these courts are not used for at least two thirds of their available time, and one in three are not used three quarters of the time.

The MoJ states that it will still be the case that, after these changes, over 95% of citizens will be able to reach their required court within an hour by car. This represents a change of just 1 percentage point for Crown and magistrates' courts and 2 percentage points for County Courts. The proportion of citizens able to reach a tribunal within an hour by car will remain unchanged at 83%.

To ensure that access to justice is maintained, even in more rural locations, we are committed to providing alternative ways for users to access our services. That can mean using civic and other public buildings, such as town halls, for hearings instead of underused, poorly-maintained permanent courts.

The consultation includes a summary of the initial assessment of the impact on travel times.

The consultation closes on 8th October 2015.

The consultation document is here.