Given the wall-to-wall dominance of Brexit in the media during the run-up to Christmas, and the tendency for minds to be focussed elsewhere over the festive period, you may have missed reports of a leaked document in which judges give a withering assessment of the government's proposals for court reforms.
Coming nearly a year after the opening of the Ministry of Justice's (MoJ's) consultation on the matter, the leaked submission to the MoJ from the Association of Her Majesty's District Judges (ADJ) reveals the extent of the frustrations being felt by those who handle most civil and family law cases in England and Wales. It says...:
- Court systems are already "even more broken" thanks to drastic budget cuts;
- Further court closures should be halted until more is known about their impact;
- That the government did not appear to have done an impact assessment on vulnerable people and that "indirect discrimination results from these proposals and cannot be airbrushed away";
- Relying on technology to replace courts is risky: A recent virtual hearing to promote the idea "had to be abandoned due to excessive buffering and crashing";
- That the government’s consultation "reads as if cutting costs is being prioritised over access to justice";
- The government’s analysis behind increasing travel time for court users is likely to be "cursory and inadequate".
A full report on, and analysis of, the leaked submission is available at BuzzFeed News.