I’ll see you in court, but where is the court?

Bringing justice (or at least law) to the people has always been one of the prime duties of any government. Governments can only function on the basis that the law will mostly be obeyed and that the rule of law will prevail and that the rule of law is without exceptions; it applies to the ordinary citizen and to the government. If the people cannot have their cases promptly and efficiently heard, or if the hearing of those cases is too expensive for people to pay, then the rule of law is damaged, badly.

At one time governments organised the dispensing of justice to try those accused of crime and to settle disputes by arranging for a group of justices (with counsel and other legal people, to tour sections of the country on assizes. This worked in England for hundreds of years but as the population grew and has more and more laws were enacted it was clear that instead of the justices on tour permanent courts should be established and so they were, all over the country. A citizen would usually be in reach of a court within a few miles of where that citizen lived, and so it worked well until recent years.

Today courts across England are closing at an astonishing rate. In the last nine years 250 courts have closed leaving many of those who need to use the courts (or are forced to use the courts) with long difficult and expensive journeys. That makes it hard for people to have access to law at a time when the law has never been as complicated as it is today and a time when there are more criminal offences than ever.

I am just writing about a citizen’s access to law; Until that becomes easier we cannot even consider access to justice, another horror show.

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