Court cases delayed because of lack of funding
Justice should be swift and accessible but the Times reports that,
The criminal courts are facing their biggest cash crisis in decades after a warning to judges and magistrates of a £90 million shortfall in the budget for the justice system. Judges and magistrates in England and Wales have been told of the emergency, which is likely to result in trial delays, cancelled court sittings and redundancies.
The shortfall over three years — which has arisen because of a deficit in income derived from fees paid by court users — was described as a bombshell by one senior judge.
Huge fee rises from May of up to 2,500 per cent are thought to be deterring people from using the courts: applications in care cases by local authorities, for instance, have dropped by 25 per cent since May.
The shortfall arose after ministers ignored Conservative warnings this year that the fee rises would cause a fall-off in work in the courts, he said.
A letter has gone out from Lord Justice Leveson, the senior presiding judge for England and Wales, to 2,000 judges and 28,000 magistrates. It says that the Courts Service has identified a £27 million shortfall in fee income for 2008-09, with shortfalls of £46 million and £17 million in 2009-10 and 2010-11 respectively. His letter comes after a memorandum from the Courts Service to court managers that says: “No part of HMCS [HM Courts Service] will be protected from having to find savings.” A plan identifying ways to find the savings is to be put forward to the board that runs the Courts Service and to the Ministry of Justice this month. …