‘Nightingale’ courts to open

Ten temporary or ‘Nightingale’ courts are being set up to help clear a backlog of hearings caused by the coronavirus pandemic. At the start of lockdown on 23 March almost half of all courts in England and Wales were closed, with jury trials paused to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Other hearings were able to take place with the use of remote technology, with the courts prioritising which cases to hear. The family court in particular has been able to carry on this way but there is still a backlog of cases to process.

Data released by the Ministry of Justice in June showed that magistrates’ courts face a backlog of more than 480,000 cases, with the backlog in crown courts standing at about 41,000 cases.

Now it has been announced by the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland that the new “Nightingale Courts” would help with “reducing delays and delivering speedier justice for victims”. As of next week, they will hear civil, family and tribunals work as well as non-custodial crime cases.

The new venues in England and Wales are as follows:

  • 102 Petty France, the MoJ’s London headquarters
  • Knights’ Chamber and Visitor Centre, Bishop’s Palace, Peterborough Cathedral
  • Former county court at Telford, Shropshire
  • Hertfordshire Development Centre, Stevenage
  • Swansea Council Chambers, Swansea
  • Cloth Hall Court, a meeting and conference venue in Leeds
  • Middlesbrough Town Hall, Teesside
  • East Pallant House, home of Chichester District Council
  • Prospero House, a meeting and conference venue in London
  • Former magistrates’ court at Fleetwood, Lancashire

Family cases are heading more and more towards online filing with the MOJ developing and expanding the types of cases which can be filed online. This combined with the temporary Nightingale Courts may help to ease the strain and still allow for full access to justice.

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

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