Court reform

Number of operational Nightingale courts revealed in new interactive map

A new interactive map to show legal practitioners and court users which Nightingale courts are operational has been released by the Law Society of England and Wales.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) have previously announced that 10 Nightingale courts will be opened across England and Wales to address the case backlogs in the Courts and Tribunals Service.

Our interactive heatmap gives details on the two Nightingale courts which are currently up and running and will be updated as more temporary courts open.

“The government’s plans to open 10 Nightingale courts are very much welcome,” said Law Society president Simon Davis.

“After years of underfunding and cuts, there were already significant backlogs across the civil and criminal justice systems. This has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic – with the number of outstanding cases standing at more than 500,000.*

“We believe the government can build court capacity to clear the backlog by using unused public buildings – including court buildings which have been closed but have remained unsold – as Nightingale courts.

“We have repeatedly made clear to the Ministry of Justice that extended hours are not the right approach to tackling the backlogs in the courts because of the significant impact they would have on court users, legal practitioners and how our justice system functions.

“There would be financial and administrative implications for solicitors and those with caring responsibilities are likely to be hit hardest.

“Investing in legal aid for early advice and legal representation would help to nip problems in the bud before they escalate and ensure judicial time is used as efficiently as possible in cases which do go to court.

“Before looking at extended hours, the Ministry of Justice and HM Courts and Tribunals Service must ensure that it is making maximum use of normal court hours and the existing court estate, quickly take up further building space and avoid any restrictions on judges sitting while there are court rooms (real, virtual or Nightingale) available.”

Notes to editors

*According to recent HM Courts and Tribunals Service statistics, there were 483,678 outstanding cases in the magistrates courts by mid-May and 40,526 outstanding Crown court cases.

See the statistics

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