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Court closures legal bid starts

Court closures legal bid starts

A legal challenge to a Government decision to close a courthouse in Kent is being held at the High Court, the first of several such closure cases which is due to come up for judicial review.

The bid to save Sittingbourne Magistrates' Court in Kent will be heard by three senior judges and was brought by legal firm Robin Murray and Co after the High Court agreed to cap legal costs if the application fails.

Campaigners say the Sittingbourne courthouse has disabled access, meets the criteria for facilities laid down by the Ministry of Justice and is in use for more than 80% of the time.

Ministers sparked controversy last December when they announced plans to shut down more than 150 magistrates courts across England and Wales in a bid to make the justice system more efficient.

Other challenges include decisions of the Lord Chancellor to close Barry Magistrates' Court and merge the local justice areas of Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, and to close Cardigan Magistrates' Court.

They are in the pipeline for hearings in June.

Sarah Jackson, Senior Solicitor in IBB's Commercial Dispute Resolution team, comments: "The Government proposal is based on purported costs savings which may result from the closure of these courts. There is an argument that if the Magistrates Courts reverted back to being governed by the unpaid Magistrates rather than expensive civil servants greater costs savings could be achieved without the closure of significant numbers of courts which might compromise our Justice system."

IBB Solicitors has niche expertise on applications to the Court of Protection and three of our solicitors are members of the Court of Protection's panel of professional deputies. For advice, contact a member of the Wills, Trusts and Probate team, call us on 01494 790007 or email enquiries@ibblaw.co.uk.