Early and late sittings will be piloted in civil and family courts, giving people greater access to hearings that can fit around their busy life. Partner William Donnelly said, “It makes sense that our courts and tribunals are made more accessible to the public. This pilot assesses whether and how we can give people greater flexibility and more convenience but the impact on Court staff and other legal professional needs to be assessed”.
People may no longer need to take an entire day off work to attend court and those with caring responsibilities could find it easier to fit in hearings at the beginning or end of a day.
The pilot was announced by the government on the 16th November following feedback from legal professionals across the country. As a result of this feedback, flexible operating hours are now going to be piloted in criminal courts.
Two courts, in Manchester and Brentford, will run the pilots for six months, testing whether civil and family buildings can be used more effectively; the benefits of making it possible for people to attend court outside of the traditional 10am – 4pm sitting day; and what more flexibility means for staff and legal professionals.
The pilot comes as Government is investing more than £1bn to reform courts and tribunals with the aim of making it as simple and straightforward as possible for people who come into contact with the justice system.
In October 2017, a Pilots Prospectus was published which sought feedback on proposals for early and late court sittings before the pilots began.
Case types proposed for inclusion in the pilots were chosen following input from the legal sector and local judiciary, and views of court users and professionals will be taken in to account in the evaluation. A full evaluation of the pilot will be conducted by an independent organisation.
If you would like assistance in relation to a court appearance, call William on 01329 822333 for further information.