News

Opposition to flexible court hours gathers momentum

Summary

Opposition is now growing to the reintroduction of flexible hours as a solution to Covid Court backlogs . These have now been retitled “temporary operating hours ” by the Lord Chancellor The ‘blended model’ would involve running two separate jury […]

Opposition is now growing to the reintroduction of flexible hours as a solution to Covid Court backlogs . These have now been retitled "temporary operating hours " by the Lord Chancellor

The ‘blended model’ would involve running two separate jury trials in one courtroom: one from 9am to 1pm and one from 2pm to 6pm. The ‘remote model’ would be for sessions held entirely remotely where the hearing takes place outside of the standard 9am-5pm operating hours.

The MOJ claimed successful pilots supported the introduction of the scheme but data published by HM Court Service last year paints a different picture with court users suggesting they arrived home much later that planned and the quality of the later session was not as high .

A separate survey by Women in Criminal Law highlighted the devastating impact that extending court operating hours would have on their health, work-life balance and careers.

It appears that lawyers now consider a red line has been crossed and there is now talk of returning to the idea of days of action to reinforce in the minds of the government that this is a step too far .

It remains to be seen whether this will now occur or whether indeed some elements of the judiciary might conclude that they do not want to implement such arrangements in their own Courts bearing in mind the impact and devisive nature of such measures .

The Ministry of Justice may have forgotten the key role played by lawyers during covid in helping to keep the justice system going , it seems that good will is now at risk of being destroyed by these plans .