The Law Society has warned the senior judge tasked with modernising the courts service that solicitors’ firms could be forced to close if they have to compensate fee-earners made to work overtime under the out-of-hours court pilot.

In a letter to Lord Justice Fulford, Law Society president Joe Egan says recent assurances the judge had given over the scheme do not mitigate the impact on solicitors and their clients.

Fulford had attempted to address concerns in a letter sent to judges, the Law Society and the Bar Council earlier this month. The letter aimed to ‘demystify’ the proposals and address ‘ill-informed comments’.

In response, Egan says he is grateful for Fulford’s assurance that solicitors will not be obligated to attend both the early morning and late-evening court sittings. But he adds that there is likely to be a considerable financial impact on ‘hard-pressed solicitors’ firms’.

‘Fee-earners will still have to undertake other work outside any hearings in the pilot courts, such as duty attendances at the police station and work on other clients’ files,’ he points out.