Delays in the courts system are nothing new. Indeed, it would probably be more newsworthy if a case actually ran to schedule.
So there is a certain symmetry in the discovery that those administering the courts also have a poor track record when it comes to timekeeping.
Sniffing out a story, the Gazette asked HMCTS in March how many of the 86 court and tribunal buildings earmarked for closure had been sold. Word on the street was that justice officials were flogging property at rock-bottom prices in a desperate bid to clear their stock.
By law, the request was due to be answered by mid-April. The response finally materialised last week, by which time the details were well out of date and the answers – no doubt procured at some time and cost to the department – obsolete.
HMCTS apologised for the delay, explaining it was due to the ‘need to consider all the circumstances of the case’ (one for lawyers to bear in mind next time they are threatened with sanctions for delay).
For what it is worth, as of 31 March, five buildings had been sold, with 22 transferred to the Homes and Communities Agency. A total of 16 courts were closed but unsold.