Law Society delivers damning verdict on St Albans county court closure

St Albans County Court

St Albans County Court - Credit: Archant

On the final day of the public consultation into proposed changes to courts across the country – including St Albans county court - the president of the Law Society has delivered his damning verdict.

Jonathan Smithers warned last week: “The proposed closure of St Albans county court will make it more difficult for a significant number of people to get to court, and the closures will more adversely affect people with disabilities and lower income families.”

The comments came on the last day of a 12-week public consultation into the proposals, in which it was recommended that all county court services at the Bricket Road site be relocated to Watford.

Mr Smithers added: “Combined with the further planned increases in court fees and reductions in eligibility for legal aid, many of the proposed closures will serve to deepen the inequalities in the justice system between those who can and cannot afford to pay.

“No matter who you are, no matter where you live, everyone in England and Wales must be able to access legal advice and the justice system.”

According to the Ministry of Justice’s own travel estimates, around 65 per cent of court users in Herts would need to travel for more than an hour to reach court using public transport.

St Albans MP Anne Main said that if the proposed changes came into force, then the swift introduction of new technologies - such as video link-ups - was imperative.

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She added: “Adequate procedures have to be in place to ensure access to the courts. It is right and proper that the government would want to modernise and streamline the current court and tribunal service but this has to be done in a way that does not put up barriers to justice.”