Court closures in the North West.

Spin this one whichever way you want, but GMWRAG members in many areas will have been dismayed yesterday to discover the final list of court closures in the North West. Many of these venues have been the home to first tier tribunal oral hearings for many years and it is easy to forget that these closures will impact social security claimants and advisers alike at a time when the introduction of PIP is reducing the number of people with access to a vehicle and concessionary travel. It is cold comfort indeed to read that “The proportion able to reach a tribunal within an hour by car will remain unchanged at 83%.”.

Little wonder the Tribunal Service is finally busying itself looking at Alternative Dispute Resolution and IT based solutions for some time in 2017.

The full list of closures can be found here but to make it clear how bleak this is the list includes

  • Accrington County Court
  • Accrington Magistrates’ Court
  • Bolton County Court and Family Court
  • Bury Magistrates’ Court and County Court
  • Oldham County Court
  • Oldham Magistrates’ Court
  • Runcorn (Halton) Magistrates’ Court
  • St Helens Magistrates’ Court
  • Tameside County Court
  • Trafford Magistrates’ Court and Altrincham County Court
  • Wrexham Tribunal (Rhyd Broughton)
  • Kendal Magistrates’ Court and County Court
  • Macclesfield County Court
  • Macclesfield Magistrates’ Court
  • Ormskirk Magistrates’ Court and Family Court
  • Warrington County Court

A small plus is that Stockport and St Helens (County) have survived.

Further details and commentary can be found in the Law Society Gazette. An equally interesting perspective on court closures, IT and ADR can be found on the Clinks blog. In this context of course it is vital that all GMWRAG members are aware of the work of the Bach Commission (no, not that one!) on access to justice as a fundamental right.