Posted by Patrick Hart, Partner
On 1 September 2016 Withy King LLP merged with Royds LLP. The trading name for the merged firm is Royds Withy King. All content produced prior to this date will remain in the name of the firms pre-merger.
Court closure proposals will not affect family law reforms
Ministers have had to issue assurances that plans to close courts across England and Wales will not disrupt family reforms already underway.
Last month, the Government announced a consultation on the closure of 91 courts and tribunals across England and Wales – around a fifth of the total number.
Justice Secretary Michael Gove said that the proposals to shut down underused facilities would save the taxpayer millions of pounds.
But the news raised questions about whether the proposed cost-cutting programme would affect the strategy to centralise divorce services, which is currently being implemented.
Plans to shut two local courts in the vicinity of Bury St Edmunds – the location for one of 11 regional divorce centres – was one of several potential problems identified by family lawyers.
The fear arose from the fact that the centres are primarily designed to handle routine and non-urgent cases and alternative sites will still be needed for certain types of hearing.
With concerns arising about similar disruption in other parts of the country, a HM Courts and Tribunal Services spokesman issued a statement to assure individuals and law firms that the family reforms had been factored into the changes.
They said that in cases where a divorce was contested, appropriate venues would still be available.
Ministers hope that the move away from divorce petitions being dealt with through hundreds of local courts will simplify the process and make the system less vulnerable to fraud.
The transfer of divorce work to the new centres is expected to conclude in the autumn.
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