Proposal on the provision of court and tribunal estate in England and Wales - Law Society response
The Law Society has responded to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) proposals to close 91 courts and tribunals in England and Wales, and integrate or merge 31 more.
The Society conducted a survey of the profession in order to assess the effect of the proposed closures. The survey received 823 responses. This response reflects our members' views.
In summary, our concerns are:
- Access to justice: a key aspect of access to justice is being able to go to a local court without incurring unreasonable expense. Almost all of the proposed closures would result in court users travelling further, at greater cost.
- Use of technology: the Society agrees that a modernised court service and efficient use of technology would benefit all court users. However, these facilities are not yet in place across all courts nor in the proposed alternatives.
- Legal aid tenders: the Society is concerned that the court closures would lead to our members being financially unable to meet the requirements of the legal aid tenders through no fault of their own. This could leave people who qualify for legal aid unable to access legal advice in some areas.
- Methodology: neither the consultation paper nor the impact assessment sets out the criteria used to identify the courts and tribunals proposed for closure or consolidation. Our members also pointed out a worrying number of factual errors in the consultation document. Details of these are given in our full response.
Download the full response below.
Our interactive map shows the response from the Law Society for each individual court affected by the proposals.
View the full version of this map
You can view the Ministry of Justice's proposals for each court by visiting our original interactive map.