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Outcry over proposals for late night and early morning court sittings

 

shawn
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Hopefully not coming our way any time soon -

Plans to launch a pilot programme of flexible early morning and evening courts from next month are encountering growing opposition from lawyers.

The Ministry of Justice proposals, put on hold during the general election, are expected to start at six court centres in England in June despite protests by the Law Society, Bar Council and an online petition. The proposals would involve extended working hours, with some court sessions starting as early as 8am and other sittings continuing until 8.30pm ...

Explaining its proposals in March, HMCTS said the pilot programme would “help us to understand whether flexible operating hours can enable an efficient and effective justice system which is considerate of the needs of the people and professionals who use it.”

https://www.theguardian.com/law/2017/may/31/outcry-over-proposals-for-late-night-and-early-morning-court-sittings

     
Ruth_T
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Isn’t this just the inevitable outcome of the closure of 80 Court buildings, nationwide, a year ago?

     
Mike Hughes
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I’m not sure it is. Firstly, one has to remember that the idea originated back in the day when we had a Blair government. Somewhat ironically it was intended to tackle the “yob culture” encouraged by Britpop and the endorsement of celebrity by said government (I am simplifying a very complex issue obviously). The 2002 trial ran in Manchester and London and was deemed prohibitively expensive and not a little pointless in respect of evening sittings. It was felt an earlier start had some merit and the Manchester trial resulted in a change at Trafford Mags. I would be interested to learn whether that continues years down the line.

Decent summary at https://www.wired-gov.net/wg/wg-news-1.nsf/54e6de9e0c383719802572b9005141ed/2d939a5874012a2e802572ab004b711b?OpenDocument

Of course “pilot” no longer means “pilot” in the sense of trying something different or sensible and seeing if it works or not. Abandon and learn if it doesn’t? Nah! We now “pilot” what we intend to introduce because of our ideological commitment to it. At worst a “pilot” will highlight things that “need to be worked on”. A “pilot” will never again produce “abandon” as an outcome in my lifetime I suspect.

So, whilst court closures may have provided some impetus to this I suspect they were more part of what has been described as the “menu” of options for change along with ADR; virtual courts and so on. In other words, “we’re going to change this because it’s too expensive and ideologically we hate the judiciary and need them to be taken down several pegs until they’re cheaper and in our pockets.”

Interesting that first time around the impact on legal professionals didn’t raise it’s head at all. I suspect that 15 years down the line they have a much more acute sense of their terms and conditions being eroded.

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/no-to-late-court-sittings

     
ClairemHodgson
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Mike Hughes - 02 June 2017 09:52 AM

Interesting that first time around the impact on legal professionals didn’t raise it’s head at all. I suspect that 15 years down the line they have a much more acute sense of their terms and conditions being eroded.

particularly as they get paid bog all for the work; to the extent that the Law Society has just advised that firms can take account of whether they’re being properly paid when deciding whether to accept instructions.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/refuse-work-if-its-uneconomical-society-tells-legal-aid-firms/5061324.article

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/bar-urges-all-lawyers-to-resist-extended-hours-courts/5061367.article