Criminal justice

Measures to reduce Crown Court backlog announced by MoJ

On 21 April, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced new measures to tackle the Crown Court backlog, including removing the limit on the number of days the court can sit for the new financial year.

Empty courtroom

The crisis in our criminal justice system has seen the backlogs in the courts spiral to unprecedented levels, leaving victims, witnesses and defendants waiting years for justice.

To increase how many jury trials can take place safely, we have repeatedly called on the UK government to:

  • maximise existing court capacity and judicial sitting days
  • boost capacity through many more Nightingale courts

Restrictions on how many days Crown Courts can sit have contributed to the huge backlog of cases.

We’re therefore pleased to know that judges will once again be able to sit an unlimited number of days through 2022/2023.

Read the government announcement

Protecting criminal justice for the future

Without criminal defence solicitors, more court days will not be enough to tackle the backlogs and keep our justice system working.

Declining capacity in the profession makes it highly challenging to meet the increased demand brought on by the huge backlogs.

Senior solicitors have shared concerns with us about workload and finding advocates if criminal cases increase.

See our research on the backlogs

We're calling on the government to invest in the criminal legal aid system at least on the scale that Sir Christopher Bellamy has said is urgently needed.

Otherwise, the backlogs will continue, and it's likely that in five years’ time we will no longer have a criminal justice system worthy of the name.

Under current proposals, solicitors are set to receive 40% less than the amount Sir Christopher Bellamy recommended as the bare minimum needed to keep the system economically viable.

Join our fight for a new deal for solicitors – respond directly to the consultation

Find out more about the review

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