The Law Society today responded to a Ministry of Justice consultation on proposals to close 91 courts and tribunals, which is one-fifth of courts and tribunals across England and Wales, and integrate or merge 31 more.
Our response reflects solicitors’ views on the likely adverse impact of the proposed closures on local communities, the justice system and the legal profession.
Law Society president Jonathan Smithers commented:
“A majority of these proposed court closures will make it more difficult for a significant number people to get to court, and the closures will more adversely affect people living in rural areas, those with disabilities and lower income families.
“Combined with the further planned increases in court fees and reductions in eligibility for legal aid, many of the proposed closures will serve to deepen the inequalities in the justice system between those who can and cannot afford to pay.
“No matter who you are, no matter where you live, everyone in England and Wales must be able to access legal advice and the justice system.”
We have produced an interactive map that shows the impact the proposed closures would have on local people, as told to us by solicitors who serve their local communities.
The Law Society’s concerns fall into five main areas: access to justice; the impact on court users; the use of technology; legal aid contracts; and methodology. The response also outlines potential alternative approaches.