New Forest East

JUSTICE – MAGISTRATES AND COURT BACKLOGS (3) [124641] - 03 December 2020

JUSTICE – MAGISTRATES AND COURT BACKLOGS (3) [124641] - 03 December 2020

Dr Julian Lewis:   To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answers of 2 July 2020 to Questions 65895 on Magistrates' Retirement Ages and Question 65896 on Court Backlogs, what his latest estimate is of the increase in the average time taken to bring cases to trial in magistrates courts; for what reason emergency legislation has not been brought forward to allow experienced magistrates to sit beyond the age of 70 until the backlog of cases has been reduced to an acceptable level; and if he will make it his policy to ensure by introducing primary legislation if necessary that such magistrates are not lost to the justice system on reaching the age of 70.   [124641]

[Due for Answer on 8 December.] 


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Immigration Compliance and Courts (Chris Philp): Due to COVID-19, it has not been possible to produce criminal court timeliness estimates for Q1 and Q2 of 2020. However, timeliness estimates for magistrates’ courts are expected to be published later this month as part of the Q3 2020 Criminal Court Statistics. As a result of the recovery work undertaken, we are listing more summary trials every week than we were prior to the pandemic. Our capacity is not currently limited by the number of magistrates. Every week we are sitting more sessions in the magistrates’ courts than in the same period in 2019.

Since August, we have been sitting additional magistrates’ courts on a Saturday and have dealt with thousands of cases in the additional court sessions. During this time, magistrates’ courts have been consistently completing more cases than they have received and reduced the number of outstanding cases. The public consultation on proposals to raise the mandatory retirement age for most judicial office holders, including magistrates closed on 16 October and analysis of the 1000 responses from the magistracy, the judiciary, and stakeholders is well underway. The government intends to publish the government response as soon as practicable with a view to legislate for any change required at the earliest opportunity.