LCCSA News, President's Report

President’s Bulletin 26th February 2021

PUBLISHED February 26, 2021

In this edition I share news on COVID testing at courts, Overnight prisoner processes, disappointing news from the LAA on interim payments, ID card feedback and encouraging news of another Nightingale Court launch.

Lateral Flow Test pilot at Southwark

I understand take-up of this on-site testing service has been low so far and most that have participated are HMCTS staff.  If you are visiting Southwark, particularly if you plan to attend a long trial, please can you take some time to participate in this pilot?  It only works if a critical mass are willing to undergo the test for the benefit of all.  The pilot may be extended to other courts in the region and is an additional tool to maximise safety for all attending court.  When the pilot is evaluated we all would hope solicitors are not the court user group that has failed to support it.  For more information

Overnight prisoner processes

I provide a note from the cluster manager for London magistrates’ courts explaining how courts will divert prisoners once the cell occupancy limit has been reached at the local court.  It will require police station representatives to make it clear the firm contact details they would want to be included in any handover to the PLO.  That way early notice can be provided of any diversion to an alternative court house.

Interim payments

Listening to feedback from our members we requested additional financial support for providers.  The simplest proposal was to increase interim payments following an not guilty plea from 75% of the cracked trial fee to 100%.  This was a small measure, but on page-heavy cases would assist cash flow.  It required some amendments of regulations but was unlikely to have any impact on overall spend.  After considering the proposal the LAA have decided not to make the change as they believe Crown Court work is returning to normal.  We do not agree with this assessment and have see no evidence to suggest this.  If you believe the proposal would assist your firm at this time, with changes to the furlough scheme likely, please write to your contract manager to explain why this matters and why the LAA’s assessment of Crown Court completions is overly optimistic .  We will continue to press for this increase.


PUAS feedback

We have had positive feedback from members who have used their new ID cards to access courts but in some locations concerns have been raised over the number of random searches being conducted.  At present this is supposed to be 10% but there is reason to believe more than that are taking place.  I have raised concerns with HMCTS who have promised to investigate.

New Nightingale Court: Croydon CC at Jury’s Inn Hotel

Headlines are as follows:

  • Will open on 15th Will run until end June with a possible extension.
  • HMCTS has taken over Floors 1 and 2 although there remain some keyworkers resident still in the hotel.
  • There will be 2 courts.  Court 12 is a jury court. Court 11 for appeals and applications. CVP available in both courts.
  • Jury trials will be for single defendant only on bail. No violent cases and the defendant cannot have any antecedents for violence. Trial duration 2-3 days.
  • Press and public gallery in separate room with capacity for 8.
  • Court 11 includes room for 4 in public gallery.
  • 8 security will be on hand. Visitors subject to Covid checks – will be met by HMCTS marshal on those 2 floors.
  • 4 x consultation rooms. 2 x witness waiting rooms. 1 robing room appointed with several desks, easy chairs and wardrobe all socially spaced.  1CPS room. No refreshments facilities on site although in an area where well served, 5 mins from Croydon East RS.
  • Gov wifi available. Fast track professional access not immediately available but hopeful it will be introduced.
  • No cases involving vulnerable witnesses.

We will share more information once it is ready.

Mark Troman


London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association