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Court closures: the case for London

16 August 2010

Concern is growing in legal circles over proposed court closures, with criticisms that the government consultation has not been thought through. Richard Langley, below, makes the case for keeping the Mayor’s and City of London Court open (pictured right). If you believe that you and your clients are likely to be affected, you should respond by 15 September. You can use our template as a starting point, which can be found at

“If we accept that savage funding cuts are inevitable, which I think we must, we need to give serious thought to the ways in which we can influence where the cuts will fall. All of us who practise in our local courts will be able to identify areas in which the courts service could be more efficient, or rules and procedures that create a layer of cost (for court staff) that could safely be eliminated – certificates of service spring to mind.

In London, many of us will remember the efficiency of the High Court QBD Masters’ corridor and Bear Garden in the pre-CPR days and contrast that with the frustration and inertia of getting anything done in the London county courts. That frustration will only increase if Mayor’s & City of London Court closes.

I know we cannot turn the clock back but should we not consider what might be done to replicate the relatively efficient (even if sometimes brutal) procedures of the old Action Department? In the ‘old days’, you could draft the documents, go up to a counter, get them sealed and the job was done.

In London, these days, even the simplest task seems to have to go all the way to a processing centre in Haywards Heath which leads to delay and does not seem to save any time for court staff in London. Maybe an outsourcing consultant produced a business case for this but the more people involved in a process, the more expensive it gets. The courts service needs to draw on practitioners’ experience in looking to see where they might save costs.”

Richard Langley

Head of litigation, Bircham Dyson Bell LLP Committee member of the London

Solicitors Litigation Association

Categorised in:

Local government Courts & Judiciary