86 courts to close in England and Wales

Amanda Crowe Cropped

By Amanda Erskine

At the end of July we reported that the Ministry of Justice had launched a consultation into the proposed closure of 91 courts across England and Wales. Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service currently operates 460 courts and tribunal hearing centres across England and Wales. The running of these courts costs taxpayers around half a billion pounds each year with the MoJ claiming that some court buildings are being underused.

The consultation proposed to reduce surplus capacity by closing courts and tribunals that are unused or underused. The consultation covers the proposed closure of:

  • 57 magistrates’ courts
  • 19 county courts
  • 2 crown courts
  • 4 tribunal hearing centres
  • 9 combined courts

By the time the consultation closed on 8 October 2015 over 2,100 separate responses were received, along with 13 petitions containing over 10,000 signatures. Having considered all the responses the MoJ has announced that 86 courts and tribunals will close. Shailesh Vara, Minister for the Courts and Legal Aid says:

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.”

Only time will tell as to what impact these closures will have on the existing courts, the staff who work in them and the hundreds of thousands of people who need to use the court every year and whether this will impact on access to justice.

Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.

Ipswich Family Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email bg@barkergotelee.co.uk