The government is refusing to hand over data about an expected backlog of civil cases, according to the Bar Council, which said the figures are likely to make 'uncomfortable reading'.
Amanda Pinto QC, chair of the Bar Council, told barristers she had been ‘fobbed off’ by the government after repeatedly asking for listing data.
‘We need to understand the volume of work in the pandemic, and whether cases were substantively heard or merely adjourned. This is about access to justice (or lack of it) during Covid-19 and will help us prepare for the backlog of civil cases and the volumes we might expect in the future. We have been fobbed off. You might conclude that the data must make for uncomfortable reading – why else is there such reluctance to share it? We continue to press for it,’ she said.
Last week it was announced that seven courts at the Manchester Civil Justice Centre, one of the country’s busiest civil court centres, will reopen for trials from 15 June to address a growing backlog of hundreds of cases.
The criminal case backlog now stands at 40,000, and is believed to be rising. The Bar Council said it is working with the Criminal Bar Association, circuit leaders, the government and the judiciary, to identify further potential courtrooms, including re-purposing buildings.