In the Media

Crime and Courts Bill to create single county court system

PUBLISHED May 10, 2012

Thursday 10 May 2012 by John Hyde

The government has confirmed in the Queen's speech that it will enact proposals for a single county court system in England and Wales.

The move was mooted in March amongst a raft of other proposals following the report of a consultation into solving disputes in the county courts. It was confirmed on Wednesday as part of the Crime and Courts Bill, which will also create a national crime agency and reform the courts and tribunals service 'to increase efficiency, transparency and judicial diversity'.

The lifting of geographical boundaries on county courts is designed to improve the allocation and transfer of cases between court centres. It should also make better use of judicial and administrative resources in the courts and reduce waiting times.

Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke has said the structural reform will 'create a better balance of work and resources' and allow people using court 'the simplest and quickest way so that they can get on with their lives and businesses'.

The government has also confirmed plans to shift the costs for late payment of fines further onto the offender, rather than the taxpayer. No details of the bill's timing have been revealed.