Anger as Court of Appeal public office is replaced by post boxes

THE public office at the Court of Appeal which receives appeal applications from solicitors and litigants in person was closed without warning last week due to staff shortages.

The closure of The Civil Appeals General Office has prompted claims from angry solicitors that it will lead to delays in the Court of Appeal.

The office has been replaced by two post boxes: one for appeals applications and respondents' applications by lawyers and the other for members of the public.

Solicitors who regularly use the court were given no warning of the move, although they had heard rumours that it might close.

The office deals with approximately 50 cases a week. The one dedicated member of staff in the office has been reallocated to another department.

It is understood that the new post box system is to be reviewed on 14 September and if it is deemed to be working will become a permanent fixture. A spokesman for the Lord Chancellor's Department would only say: “The office is closed for refurbishment and its future will be reconsidered at a later stage.”

Herbert Smith litigation partner Tom Custance said: “While the new arrangements are not going to make a major difference to firms like

Herbert Smith, who have significant experience of the appeal procedures, it is other firms and the litigants in person who will be at a serious disadvantage.

“The rule which covers this, Order 59, is far from straightforward – more time will be spent dealing with matters in writing, whereas before, with the general office, any queries could be dealt with on the day.”