Lubna Shuja speaks out about the poor state of repair of many courts across the country
By Michael Bond
The shambolic state of court buildings across England and Wales – including leaking toilets, broken heating, sewage, mould and asbestos – has been laid bare in a new report launched today.*
The Law Society of England and Wales surveyed solicitors about whether the court infrastructure is fit for purpose.
Two thirds of respondents had experienced delays in cases being heard in the last 12 months due to the physical state of the courts. Such delays and cancellations have left their clients in limbo, being denied access to justice and having wasted time and costs.
“The poor state of court buildings across England and Wales is both a contributor to the huge backlog of court cases and a stark illustration of the lack of investment in our justice system,” said Law Society President Lubna Shuja.
Our five-step plan to address the backlog, which was also launched today, recommends:
- Investing in buildings, staff and judges so that valuable court time is no longer wasted by delayed repairs or not enough court staff and judges.
- Properly funding legal aid to ensure there are enough legal aid firms to handle civil and criminal cases.
- Keeping cases out of the courtroom by properly funding legal aid for early advice.
- Installing reliable technology which can drive efficiency in our courts, saving time for lawyers and judges alike. However, rolling out unfinished or untested software drives delays and costs.
- Better data collection will shine a light on where investment is needed and what interventions and technology are improving efficiency.
“The backlog in our Crown Courts stands at more than 62,000 cases, while care cases in the family court take on average 49 weeks to be dealt with,” added Lubna Shuja and she went on to say that ”HM Courts and Tribunals Service is aware the court estate needs fixing and urgently needs to put into practice the steps set out to make that improvement.”**