Court closure programme unveiled by Ministry of Justice

MoJ consults on plan to close 91 courts and tribunals and merge 31 more

By Josh May

16 Jul 2015

Ministers have announced plans to close 91 courts and tribunals in England and Wales, with 31 more set to be merged. 

Last month, the Justice Secretary criticised the “waste and inefficiency” in the courts system.

Michael Gove said email and conference calls should be used to exchange information, instead of hearings.

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Yesterday, Gove added that other public buildings could be used for magistrate hearings, arguing that many courts were “dramatically underused”.

In a Written Ministerial Statement issued today, justice minister Shailesh Vara confirmed that the government was consulting on the closure of 91 courts and tribunals.

“The estate costs taxpayers around half a billion pounds each year, and at present, it is underused,” he said.

“Last year over a third of all courts and tribunals were empty for more than fifty per cent of their available hearing time.”

He added: “The buildings being consulted on represent 16% of hearing rooms across the estate which are, on average, used for only a third of their available time.

“That is equivalent to fewer than 2 out of 5 days in a week. The majority of these courts are not used for at least two thirds of their available time, and one in three are not used three quarters of the time.”

Mr Vara argued that fewer people would need to be in court as digital technology is introduced for “better and more efficient access to justice”. 

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