COVID-19 operating hours consultation – feedback request

HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) has published a rapid consultation on COVID operating hours (COH) in the Crown Courts. The deadline is Thursday 10 December.

There are three documents we have been asked to consider:

Consultation questions

  1. How do you think HMCTS could improve the proposed COH model?
  2. What features of the COH model work well and should be strengthened?
  3. What would HMCTS need to consider in the transition and roll out of COH?
  4. Are there other user groups in the criminal justice system that HMCTS should consider, and why?
  5. Do you agree that, should HMCTS proceed with further roll out, the operation of COH should be reviewed in April 2021, and what do you consider are the key points the review should focus on?

Have your say

The Law Society will be responding to this consultation. If you have any feedback about these proposals we ask that you send this to us at hmctscourtreform@lawsociety.org.uk by Monday 7 December.

We particularly encourage feedback from members who have participated in the COH pilots that took place in:

  • Liverpool
  • Snaresbrook
  • Kingston upon Hull
  • Stafford
  • Portsmouth
  • Reading
  • Cardiff

Our position

“We remain to be convinced that COVID-19 operating hours have delivered any significant additional capacity” said Law Society of England and Wales head of justice Richard Miller.

“Although more cases have been disposed during COVID-19 operating hours, it appears to have been largely due to the fact that shorter, less complex cases are allocated for these times.

"Many advocates are deeply unhappy about the proposals and will be unable to attend additional hours hearings due to caring responsibilities. They could lose out on cases and income at an already precarious time. Without advocates on board, proposals to extend hours will not work.

"We believe the additional resources it takes to run COVID-19 operating hours should be used to open additional Nightingale courts – which would increase court capacity and do much more to reduce the case backlogs.”

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