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Litigation Backlog: 10 new ‘Nightingale Courts’ are on their way

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As part of the UK government’s attempts to speed up the processing of claims that have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has recently announced the location of the first ten temporary courts.
Dubbed ‘Nightingale Courts’ after the emergency intensive care hospitals that were set up in record time during the pandemic’s peak, the new, temporary will hopefully be finished and in use by the end of August. The first such court, at East Pallant House in Chichester, Sussex, is due to open by the start of next week. The new locations opening soon are:

• East Pallant House, Chichester – for civil litigation and family cases
• Hertfordshire Development Centre, Stevenage – for civil cases
• Cloth Hall Court, Leeds – civil trial work and Business and Property cases
• Middlesbrough Town Hall – initially civil hearings, later to be used for hybrid civil hearings and family
• Prospero House, Central London – non-custodial crime
• The Knights’ Chamber and Visitor Centre, Bishops Palace, Peterborough – non-custodial corporate crime.
• Swansea Council Chambers – non-custodial crime

In addition, the MoJ’s headquarters in Petty France, central London will accommodate family cases, while two of the new court locations are former court buildings: namely Telford and Fleetwood, both of which which are being reopened to handle civil and/or family cases. The MOJ intends to open further temporary locations based on demand, and with more than 50 Crown Courts now hearing jury trials from last week, almost all courts – over 300 locations in total - are now open to the public again. The MOJ has also outlined its intention to extend the opening hours of courts including later closing and weekend opening, plans which are proving to be extremely unpopular with both the judiciary, lawyers and barristers. In commenting on the new courts, Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland commented:

Together with the judiciary, courts staff and legal sector, I am determined that we must pursue every available option to ensure our courts recover as quickly as possible.”

 

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