A pilot scheme will be held in 11 courts around England and Wales to introduce more flexible hours. Some court will start on some days at 8am and finish on others at 8pm.
The pilot is expected to last from February until August 2018. Thereafter there will be a review of how things have gone. The review will take until October 2018, when there will be a. A further report with analysis and any further recommendations.
At Brentford County Court, the proposal is to run an additional half-day either before or after the current court day.
Early sessions will be limited in some courts to warrant suspensions, civil applications of less than 30 minutes, and adjourned possession work. Later sessions involve small claims, telephone case management hearings and civil applications lasting less than an hour.
At Manchester there is a variation of the Brentford scheme except with a wider range of hearings. There will be more ability to opt out of the scheme at Manchester than for other courts.
will it work?
Whilst I think extending court hours is a great idea in principle to make the courts more business and consumer friendly, I just can't help wondering how it will work in reality. The Courts have been restricting their opening hours over the last few years due to cuts and staff shortages. So unless there is considerable investment by the government, these good ideas will simply over stretch already demoralised court staff and not make it past the pilot stage.
Maybe the government will invest- I say bring it on!
Roberta Mason is a mediator. She was a solicitor for over 20 years and knows a thing of two about disputes and going to court. She has a real sense of social justice for ordinary people and small business owners