25 July 2020
Ten locations across England and Wales will serve as sites for the new “Nightingale Courts.” These courts, much-like the clinics sharing their name, will be set up swiftly to relieve the pressure that the justice system is experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
East Pallant House – in Chichester – will be one of the first of these federal buildings to open and is expected to begin hearing cases next week.
Work is also underway to identify potential sites for the remaining courts which should be operating by August.
In March, nearly half of the courts in England and Wales were closed to minimise the spread of the coronavirus, with 90% of those that remained open using technology to operate.
Cases attended to during lockdown involved domestic abuse, child protection and dangerous offenders. However, these new temporary courts will focus on the number of outstanding concerns, mainly with civil, family and tribunal claims.
It’s hoped this will free up room in other courts and speed up the justice system’s recovery from the impact of the pandemic.
As many as 54 Crown Courts will resume hearing jury trials from next week with all courts also reopening to the public, following safety measures put in place in May.
Along with the relief these changes should bring, over 100 courts will be modernised and improved following a £142m investment announced in June.
Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC said of these new courts, “They will help boost capacity across our courts and tribunals, reducing delays and delivering speedier justice for victims.”
Operating hours for courtrooms will increase to allow for more cases to be covered.