Country’s top judge issues warning over Ilford court closure

BRITAIN’S most senior judge has warned against closing Ilford County Court, saying other venues may struggle to cope with its workload.

The family and civil court in Buckingham Road, Ilford, was among a list of 13 in London earmarked for possible closure under plans by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

More than 100 are under threat across the country and the MoJ is reviewing the results of a consultation which ended last month.

Lord Justice Goldring, presiding judge for England and Wales, formally submitted a raft of objections to the MoJ.

He said other courts may not have the capacity to deal with Ilford’s workloads and there may not be room for its judges.

Alternative courts which have been put forward are Romford and Bow.

The MoJ says Ilford court is “unable to offer modern, fit-for-purpose facilities”.

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Lord Justice Goldring said some of his colleagues had been “disappointed” by the lack of information provided by ministers over the closures and that judges and magistrates were “not confident” that sufficient planning was in place to cope with extra work.

Dave Putson, London representative of the Public and Commercial Services Union, which is campaigning against the court closures, said: “We were aware that judges were exceedingly uncomfortable with the proposals and had offered arguments to oppose the same.

“PCS London put a substantial response document to the management on September 15.

“It dealt with all of the individual courts and their strengths and weaknesses.

“There was a substantial health and safety element to the document and a serious human rights aspect as a consequence of court closures and people being denied access to justice.

“Needless to say, we have received no response.”

Lord Justice Goldring backed the closure of Acton, Highgate and Brentford courts in London and 43 others across the country.