Lawyers say courts could do better, reveals survey

LAWYERS remain dissatisfied with “many important aspects” of court services, says the Law Society.

In response to a Court Service opinion survey of court users, the society says the results show “significant dissatisfaction with many important aspects of court services”.

Phillip Sycamore, civil litigation committee chair, says: “In particular, lawyers are unhappy about the listing procedure for trials, the training and calibre of court staff, the lack of private rooms to discuss sensitive matters with clients and complaints procedures.”

The Court Service-sponsored survey of 4,000 users, including witnesses, jurors, plaintiffs and lawyers, aimed to see how well courts met the standards of the Courts Charter.

Michael Huebner, Court Service chief executive, says concerns need to be addressed by police, prosecution and defence lawyers as well as the courts.

“For our part, the Court Service accepts that where court users are not satisfied with the service provided, action must be taken to improve the situation. I will meet with senior

officials shortly to decide on the action required.”

But Labour blasts the survey as “extravagant and irrelevant”.

Paul Boateng MP says the survey, which cost £141,438, is “extravagant and irrelevant” because it “ducks the crucial question of court charges”.

Boateng says: “In three years, charges have risen by up to 400 per cent and six new ones have been introduced in the County Courts. New daily hearing fees of £200 and £500 are soon to hit customers, further restricting access to justice.”

He adds: “We intend to amend the rules of court to reduce cost and delay, to overhaul the listing system and to make courtrooms available outside usual sitting hours.”