Lawyers fear extended court operating hours will be 'introduced through the back door' as they prepare to fight a fresh attempt to bring in the controversial scheme. The Criminal Bar Association said in February that the scheme, which it described as 'discriminatory', had been abandoned. The government subsequently said the Covid Operating Hours proposal was still under review.
Last week, in a speech delivered at the Law Society, lord chancellor Robert Buckland said Crown courts would be authorised ‘to work at full throttle’ to clear the court backlog. This week, Women in Criminal Law, a practitioner group, revealed that Northampton Crown Court is proposing to introduce what appears to be the Covid Operating Hours model.
The group received an email, which said: ‘The Crown Court at Northampton is looking to increase its trial capacity so that older bail cases that are currently waiting to get on can be listed for trial. The hours are 9 to 1 and then 2 to 6.’ A meeting to discuss the proposal with Northampton's resident judge will take place next week.