Practice and Procedure

London courts to scale back for Olympics

PUBLISHED May 8, 2012

Tuesday 08 May 2012 by John Hyde

Courts near Olympics venues and traffic hotspots will significantly cut their sittings from 27 July to 12 August, HM Courts and Tribunals Service said today.

Officials are concerned that jurors and witnesses will be unable to attend hearings during a period when hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected in the capital.

Thames and Stratford magistrates' courts, both situated on the specific 'games lane', will operate one courtroom only (for overnight cases) and planned youth courts will not be held at Stratford. Highbury Corner will deal with priority custody trials and productions from Stratford and Thames, whilst gateway traffic cases will not be listed at Waltham Forest.

After the first weekend of the games, there will also be a reduced magistrates' court service at Westminster, Hammersmith, City of London, Greenwich and Bromley.

All of London's Crown courts will open during the week beginning 23 July but will begin to reduce operating levels as trials are completed. Most courts will shut around half of their courtrooms.

The service cuts will also affected family proceedings courts, county courts and tribunals at various east and north London venues.

At the Royal Courts of Justice, jurisdictions will aim to complete trials the week before the Olympics open, and hear only emergency applications on 30 and 31 July before the normal summer recess applies.

An HMCTS spokesperson said: 'Most of the courts and tribunals in London will be operating normally during the Olympics, and will deal with all urgent applications and cases. 'We have only reduced court and tribunal sittings at those buildings close to Olympic venues and known travel hotspots and are in the process of rescheduling listings to ensure that any displaced work is dealt with either before or in the weeks immediately after the games.

'We have worked with the police and other partners in developing our Olympic planning and have considered how likely travel disruption might affect users getting to and from courts and tribunals.'