Thursday, November 28, 2013

No Surprise There, Then

This article in the Law Society Gazette will come as no surprise to anyone outside of Whitehall. Ministers have long cast covetous eyes on the many hours when expensive courtrooms sit empty, and this is by no means the first attempt to put the assets to use. My own court ran pilot Saturday courts in the Eighties and Nineties, but they withered on the vine, as the only people who were interested seemed to be JPs who were keen to keep up their sittings without affecting their jobs.

Some people became terribly excited about the swift, sometimes rough-and-ready, justice dished out after the 2011 riots when courts sat all night on occasion. Of course these were exceptional times, and not nearly as efficient as people seemed to think. A District Judge of my acquaintance told me that she spent hours at a time waiting for cases to come on, because of the inevitable delays while those detained instructed their lawyers.

In recent years bright ideas have been the bane of the lower courts. Let's hope for a breather while we digest what we have learned.


  1. And what happened to that wonderful pilot court in Liverpool into which countless millions was sunk? Oh yes that came to a sticky end as well.


  2. If only we could get somebody to fix what's there now - well, it might just work...really it might...and not need more pilots and more pilots and then...well, you get the drift.

  3. Thank you for, in your blog, The Vice Tightens, pointing out the new proposals on the Judicial Management of the Magistrates' Courts, which include abolition of JIGs.
    It is not necessary to read between any lines when reference is made to work that is interesting or challenging. This just sets in a formal proposal what has been happening for several years; namely that work involving 'celebrities', politicians, local bigwigs, intellectually stretching, police officers etc etc. invariably is kept away from justices. However, doesn't the focus of "service to the public" also mean justice determined and dispensed by peers and not by a single person?

  4. Is there enough work nowadays to require courts to sit 'extended weekday and saturday sittings, Sunday sittings? Pilots on video links with police custody suites proved successful (according to the article).


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