A trial to roll out extended hours for several Crown courts has been abandoned thanks to a legal on behalf of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA).
The legal battle, which began in December, focused on controversial proposals and trials to extend operating hours of seven Crown court centres to ‘COVID operating hours’ (COH). The structure of the pilot meant that certain types of cases were listed for trial from 9am to 1pm, with a different trial to begin in the same courtroom during the afternoon from 2-6pm.
HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) first suggested the measures in order to reduce the dramatic backlog of cases that have been accumulating over the last year due to Covid-19. Off the back of multiple lockdowns, medical emergencies, and social distancing legislation, it became increasingly hard to physically hold trials and hear cases.
However, the CBA described the measures as ‘discriminatory’, citing that if it continued, the government risked breaching the Equality Act 2010 by proposing to roll the hours out ‘without proper assessment’.
After successfully winning their case, the CBA stated that the Ministry of Justice had made the choice not to continue with the plans and that it would not be ‘proceeded with in the future’. Furthermore, the CBA considers that the issue ‘will not raise its head again’.
That said, the government subsequently stated that the scheme is still under review, so we’ll have to keep a close eye on how this develops.
Cases are still being heard and trials are still underway, either virtually or in person. Manak Solicitors are still here with the same commitment to provide legal services to our community so please do not hesitate to get in touch if you’re seeking legal aid or advice.