Law Society disappointed and concerned at court closures
In response to the Scottish Government announcement today, Friday 19 April, that it plans to accept all the recommendations for court closures, Austin Lafferty, President of the Law Society of Scotland, said:
"We are disappointed and concerned by the Scottish Government's decision to accept the recommendations to close all ten sheriff courts as well as seven justice of the peace courts.
"We recognise the financial pressures facing the Scottish Court Service. However, we don't believe closures on this scale are compatible with the commitment the government has expressed on widening access to justice. We are also concerned that this closure programme will fail to achieve significant financial savings in the long term.
"Even with the introduction of video conference links, it's likely that some of the remaining courts, which are already at capacity, will struggle with the level of additional business, which in turn could slow down proceedings and increase costs.
"A number of the courts proposed for closure are busy and cover large geographical areas and populations. These closures seriously threaten access to justice in many parts of Scotland and could lead to a long term decline in our justice system. The changes will force many court users to travel further distances, at greater expense and with the result that access to justice is limited, particularly for vulnerable people and those living in rural communities.
"Local courts are an integral part of communities across Scotland. A local court offers the opportunity to see justice done and to bridge the gap between crime in local communities and its detection and resolution."
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Please contact Val McEwan on 0131 226 884
19 April 2013