Local Justice for Local People?

June 21, 2021

Simon Spence QC writing for Law Society Gazette considered Baroness Hale’s recent comments that justice should be made available for those who lived remotely and in rural areas via the equivalent of “caravan courts”.

He comments that whilst it is a good idea, is it a new one…and how practical is it? Whilst Covid19 has provided the opportunity for members of the judiciary to ‘zoom in’- what accessibility is there for those who have no technology or for a hearing where one absolutely has to be present – such as a trial?

Simon says:

“The problem highlighted by Lady Hale is particularly acute in remote, rural areas where court users may have to travel for many miles and for long periods of time to get to court and for the impoverished witness or defendant who has no car, there is unlikely to be a fit for purpose rural transport service to assist them. In Suffolk, where I live, there are parts of the county from where it is physically impossible to get to Ipswich (the only town in Suffolk that has courts now) by 10am on public transport.”

Although optimistic that caravan courts could provide a vital service for local people it depends on whether government will seize the opportunity and adopt and act upon the Baroness Hale’s suggestions. Simon concludes:

“I fear that for now at least the only caravans we shall be seeing are the ones we book for our staycations as foreign holidays disappear again rather than those out on tour to restore local justice.”

Read full piece here: [Law Society Gazette]