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INSIGHT: Local courts included in the government’s closure plans

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The government has announced that nearly a fifth of all courts and tribunals in England and Wales are to close.  The list includes local courts in Oldham and Tameside.

91 courts and tribunal hearing centres were reviewed as part of an initial consultation. The government has confirmed that eighty-six courts and tribunal hearing centres will shut as part of "modernisation" plans. Crown courts, county courts, family courts, youth courts, civil courts and tribunal hearing centres are among the centres that will close in six phases between now and September 2017.

On average, the 86 courts due to be closed were only being used for just over a third of their available hearing time - equivalent to fewer than two days a week. Ministers said 48% of court buildings were empty at least half of the time last year.

Justice Minister, Mr Vara, has said that the closures are necessary because many court buildings are "expensive to maintain yet unsuitable for modern technology". He also said: "Court closures are difficult decisions; local communities have strong allegiances to their local courts and I understand their concerns. But changes to the estate are vital if we are to modernise a system which everybody accepts is unwieldy, inefficient, slow, expensive to maintain and unduly bureaucratic."

The Law Society, which represents solicitors, argues that many people using public transport would face long and expensive journeys.

There has also been concern among many charities that those affected the most by these closures will be vulnerable people such as victims of domestic abuse, young people and those who rely on public transport to get around.

Here’s a list of the  local courts that will close and the dates on which closure is due to take place:

Accrington County Court (Feb 16 – Jun 16)
Accrington Magistrates' Court (Feb 16 – Jun 16)
Bolton County Court and Family Court (Oct 16 – Dec 16)
Bury Magistrates' Court and County Court (Jan 17 – Mar 17)
Kendal Magistrates' Court and County Court (due to close Feb 16 – Jun 16)
Macclesfield County Court and Magistrates’ Court (Jul 16 – Sep 16)
Oldham County Court (Apr 17 – Jun 17)
Oldham Magistrates' Court (Jul 16 – Sep 16)
Ormskirk Magistrates' Court and Family Court (Feb 16 – Jun 16)
Runcorn (Halton) Magistrates' Court (Oct 16 – Dec 16)
St Helens Magistrates' Court (Feb 16 – Jun 16)
Tameside County Court (Feb 16 – Jun 16)
Trafford Magistrates' Court and Altrincham County Court (Feb 16 – Jun 16)
Warrington County Court (Jul 16 – Sep 16)

However, St Helen’s County Court, Stockport Magistrates Court and County Court and West Cumbria Magistrates’ Court and County Court will remain open.

A full list of the courts that will close can be found on the Ministry of Justice’s website (see the Response to the proposal on the provision of court and tribunal estate in England and Wales).

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

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