Crumbling courts: £5m available to fix lifts and leaks, says lord chief

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We have noticed in the Law Gazette an announcement that money is going to be made available to the courts. Many of you using the court service will be aware of the numerous court closures and people potentially having to travel quite a distance to have their case heard.

When you do get to  the court often the building are in a terrible state and do not inspire the confidence of clients or advocates.

Some people choose to bypass the process by opting for arbitration where the venue is chosen by the parties however for those clients and us as practitioners who have to use the court buildings this news is welcome and overdue. Whether these funds are sufficient remains to be seen.

HM Courts & Tribunals Service has found £5m to deal urgently with a spate of reports of ‘minor but irritating’ faults in the courts estate, the lord chief justice revealed this morning. In his first press conference since being sworn in, the Rt. Hon. Lord Burnett of Maldon also warned of ‘a growing number of cases where judges are threatened and physically abused’ – and said that litigants in person ‘do not necessarily clog up the courts’.

Answering a question prompted by a series of Gazette reports about faults in the courts estate, Burnett agreed that some buildings were in ‘a dreadful condition’. In the past, he noted, budgets allocated to court repairs had not been spent. However he said that HM Courts & Tribunals Service is now ensuring that ‘every penny of the budget allocated for repairs’ is being spent in that way. An additional £5m, on top of the courts modernisation fund, has been allocated to deal with urgent problems this financial year, he said.

Burnett denied that the soaring number of unrepresented parties would cause the courts system to collapse, saying that judges were able to cope. ‘We have quite a lot of evidence, anecdotal evidence, that litigants in person do not necessarily clog up the courts,’ he said. ‘Some shorten cases, some lengthen cases.’ However he added that ‘as a general rule’ professional representation should be available.

To read the full article please visit the Law Society Gazette article.

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