The current slew of county court closures and amalgamations needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
I was recently in Hertford County Court at a costs and case management hearing only to be told that, following a practice direction given in the Hertford and Bedford court circuit, any multi-track case being progressed in any county court within those two circuits would be transferred to Oxford at the next court hearing for further case management and trial. A distance of some 74 miles away.
The case in question was accordingly transferred.
This means it is anticipated that in due course there will be no county court trials of a multi-track dispute in the Hertford or Bedford court circuits once the current list has run its course. Court users will have to make a daily journey of almost 150 miles to participate in a multi-track trial.
So much for access to justice.
Nick Goldstone, partner, head of dispute resolution, Gordon Dadds, London WC2