News

Courts to open weekends and late night to clear backlog

Posted on: July 3, 2020 by Ian Murray

The government has set out its plan for tackling a backlog of court cases during the Covid-19 crisis, amid fears it could take a decade to clear.

Courts are set to open on weekends as well as early mornings and late nights to try to clear up the mounting backlog of cases.

The plans will see no limit on the number of days judges can sit with all available courts to  be opened up again.

A number of ‘Nightingale courts’ will be created in empty public buildings where there is enough space to enable social distancing.

In a joint announcement, The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, and Lord Justice Lindblom, the Vice President of Tribunals, said it was “all hands to the pump”.

“The safety of all court users remains a priority,” said the statement.

It added that the majority of courts and tribunal buildings were set to reopen by the end of June, with the remainder opening as soon as it is safe for them to do so in line with public health guidance.

“Local leadership judges will also be looking to list creatively and to stagger and extend sitting times, with the potential to start hearings at different times of day and to sit at weekends.”

The extended opening hours are expected to begin this month.

“It is possible to make this recovery a renewal for justice in our country. Getting it right could mean a system that not only emerges intact from this crisis, but is fundamentally more efficient, more dynamic and more resilient – a smarter system for a different future, which is good news for all who use our courts.”

Earlier this month the Society of Editors reported how HM Courts and Tribunals Service will be staging a webinar later this month to showcase how video and audio are being used to streamline court activity and discuss plans for the future. To register for the event click here.