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Bar urges all lawyers to resist extended-hours courts

Bar urges all lawyers to resist extended-hours courts

The Bar Council has encouraged judges, solicitors and barristers to resist the government's plans for late night and early morning court sittings by suggesting a new standard for operating hours.

Instead of the government's proposals to keep some courts open until 8.30pm, the barristers' representative body said no court or tribunal should sit before 10am or beyond 4.30pm.

A protocol published by the Bar Council says extended opening hours could have 'widespread implications' on barristers' professional practices, as well as on their personal lives.

The Ministry of Justice announced earlier this year that it would conduct a 'flexible operating hours' pilot in six courts. The pilots, which were expected to begin in May but are on hold pending the general election, will take place over six months.

If it goes ahead, Crown courts will be open until 6pm, civil courts until 7pm and magistrates' courts until 8.30pm. Some courts would sit as early as 8am.

The representative body said it expects a 'broadly favourable response' from everyone working within the courts, including judges, court staff and solicitors. A petition against the late night court sittings has attracted more than 3,800 signatures.

Source: The Law Society Gazette

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