Monday, November 19, 2007

Change Fatigue

For almost a decade now the courts' system has been through change after change. London, for example, went through studies and consultations in the late Nineties prior to setting up the Greater London Magistrates' Courts' Authority, then a shadow Authority ran for a year before the GLMCA proper opened for business in 2001. It was abolished in 2005, most of its plans unfulfilled, but with management disrupted and confused. The Department for Constitutional Affairs ran things until 2007, when it was renamed the Ministry of Justice and reorganised. Over this time we lost our Justices' Clerks, and our local independence. By next year London will have just two Justices Clerks, but their functions will bear no relation to the traditional ones. Shortly after Her Majesty's Courts' Service took over (under the DCA) the budget was slashed, and financial stringency came to dominate the way courts were run. Now we are being - yes, reorganised.
The latest wheeze is to 'cluster' courts in groups of about four, with sub-groups of two. All of the admin will be done in one centre and files will be ferried about by road. HMCS managers, most of whom are career civil servants rather than lawyers, refer to the 'business'. Most magistrates are reserving their judgment, to see how things work out this time round.

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Posts are pre-moderated. Please bear with us if this takes a little time, but the number of bores and obsessives was getting out of hand, as were the fake comments advertising rubbish.