The Government has announced that early and late sittings are to be piloted in civil and family courts, “giving people greater access to hearings that can fit around their busy lives.”
The pilots will take place in two court sites: the Manchester Civil Justice Centre and Brentford County Court, and are expected to begin in spring next year. Whereas courts normally operate between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm, hearings in the pilot courts will begin at 8.00 am and end at 7.00 pm.
The pilots will run 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.”
Justice Minister, Lucy Frazer said:
“We want to make our courts and tribunals more accessible to the public. This pilot assesses whether and how we can give people greater flexibility in their busy lives.
“We listened carefully to the views of legal professionals and others before going ahead, and as a result flexible operating hours are not being piloted in criminal courts. We will now test different options relating to operating hours in two civil and family courts and an independent evaluation will be carried out before any decisions are made about further roll-out.”
You can read more about the pilot here.
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Image of Manchester Civil Justice Centre by Skip88 [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons.