Extended court hours will be introduced from this month in the first phase of the government’s plans to tackle the justice backlog. In a coronavirus recovery plan published yesterday, the Ministry of Justice said it will also complete the reopening of all courts in July and install screens to combat the risk of spreading infection.
But there is a noticeable lack of detail about other key measures intended to increase sittings: hearings will take place in one of 10 so-called Nightingale pop-up courts from August, but the sites are yet to be identified. There are also no plans outlined for whether the government will push ahead with reducing the number of jurors in trials or even – much to the chagrin of the legal profession – running trials with just a judge and two magistrates.
‘It is clear that while physical distancing restrictions remain in place, we will not be able to work “as normal”