The government says it is on track to shut all 86 courts and tribunals earmarked for closure by next September.

In an update on the closure programme, the Ministry of Justice said 31 court buildings were effectively closed by the end of August.

The sale of the total portfolio, which includes 64 freehold and 11 leasehold properties, is now expected to fetch at least £41m – money which the government has promised will be pumped back into the justice system.

The MoJ said some costs will be incurred until disposal is secured, but these will be ‘kept to a minimum’.

The government has now set dates for the closure of all 86 courts that were included in the estates review programme published in February.

The MoJ update said: ‘The programme to close and dispose of these properties is on schedule and fully resourced.

‘HMCTS has established a property directorate which is responsible for this programme as a priority.

‘The HMCTS property directorate has brought in technical specialists to make sure we dispose of surplus properties swiftly whilst achieving best value for the taxpayer.’

When the closures were announced, the government said eight sites would remain until suitable alternative provision was found.

Of the eight, one court (Dolgellau, in north Wales) has already ceased to operate, with a video link facility at Gwnedd County Council premises for victims and witnesses to provide evidence in court remotely.

HMCTS has agreed provision for three other sites: at Tunbridge Wells, the borough council will offer a hearing room once a week for civil hearings; in Bury St Edmunds, a remaining HMCTS building will be used for family hearings and non-custodial magistrates’ hearings four days a month; and in Chichester, video link facilities will be available in the local police station for victims and witnesses to provide evidence in criminal cases.

‘Occasional’ family cases will take place at the Havant Tribunals building, located seven miles from Chichester.

The government is also looking at the closure of Camberwell Green and Hammersmith Magistrates’ courts, with a consultation running until 27 October.

The MoJ says responses will be ‘carefully considered’ before any final decision is made.