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Monday Message 10.08.20

Chair’s Update:
Caroline Goodwin QC





What is certain in these uncertain times is that normal practice can no longer be relied on. There has been much focus on the issue of delay and the need to work at pace. However, there is building a real concern amongst practitioners about the fate of those incarcerated and awaiting trial. The implications are significant. Whether the limit be 70 days or 182 days we know that in reality that is no longer a realistic time scale. Trials being listed 2021 or 2022 is just not acceptable.
We are all aware of the considerable tension as to the problem faced as regards dangerous individuals having to be let out because the tests for continued remand have not been met and the consequential impact on the safety of the general public. Long may the courts continue to act independently of political pressure and of course they will, but there is a quid pro quo. What we need to see is a government stepping up to its responsibility and not hiding behind the very necessary actions of others. It surely cannot be lost on those who say that they care about justice that we just keep coming full circle on each and every occasion. It’s a political statement both in will and gesture. Invest.  How many more times do we have to say it? Talk about leading a horse to water.

A huge amount of work, above and beyond is being done to get courts going, but if those in power want to avoid a catastrophe, then it needs to stop talking about it, stop deluding itself and provide more court rooms that are working to capacity. If they want to avoid the release of dangerous individuals, then the purse strings need to be unleashed.


There is a deal of court work waiting to be done. There is a top-class team waiting to get into court to deal with those cases. If those cases are not listed and listed soon, the consequences are there, not only for the witnesses and the trial process but also for the bar itself. The effect of the lack of financial support together with the lack of trial work is impacting now. Not just those starting out but more importantly those who handle the heavy cases. The Government ostrich is going to have to take its long skinny neck, together with its head, out of the sand and look around at what is happening.

Is it really a serious suggestion to say change your working hours when we cannot open up the court estate? It can’t all be down to the cost of a portacabin or is it?

See for yourselves. No spoiler alerts here. Court Serve delivers the real national picture.

COURTS SITTING AT CAPACITY? A total of 77 trials today:

  • Aylesbury: no trials
  • Basildon: no trials
  • Birmingham: 2 trials listed. Courts 2,3,7,10,11,14,16 not sitting
  • Bolton: 1 trial
  • Bradford: Courts 2,3,4,5,7 not sitting: 1 trial listed in court 6
  • Bristol: 3 trials listed
  • Burnley: any business appears to be listed at Preston
  • Cambridge: 1 trial, only 5 other cases listed across the remainder of the courts
  • Canterbury: 1 trial and only 3 other courts sitting
  • Cardiff: 1 trial with courts 1,6 and 9 not sitting
  • Carlisle: 1 trial listed with only 1 other court sitting
  • Central Criminal Court: 6 trials listed, courts 3,4,5,6,7,9,10,11,13,15,17,18,22 not sitting
  • Chelmsford: no trials and 4 courts sitting
  • Chester: no trials
  • Croydon: 2 trials listed, only courts 2,3 and 6 sitting
  • Derby: 1 trial listed, only courts 1,3 and 4 sitting
  • Durham: 1 court sitting with a trial and a backer trial
  • Exeter: 1 trial
  • Gloucester: no trials
  • Grimsby: 1 trial
  • Guilford:1 trial and a floater. Only courts 1,2,3 and 5 sitting
  • Harrow: 1 trial
  • Inner London:1 trial, courts 2,5,6,7,8,9 and 10 not sitting
  • Ipswich: 1 trial
  • Isleworth: 2 trials
  • Hull: 1 trial part heard
  • Kingston:1 trial
  • Leeds: 2 trials and a backer
  • Leicester: 2 trials
  • Lewes: no trials
  • Hove: no trials
  • Lincoln: no trials
  • Liverpool: 5 trials sitting
  • Luton: 1 trial, courts 5 and 6 not sitting
  • Maidstone: 2 trials, courts 1,5,8 not sitting
  • Manchester Crown: 1 trial, courts 3,8,9,12,14 and 15 not sitting
  • Manchester Minshull street: 1 trial
  • Merthyr: 1 trial
  • Mold: no trials
  • Caernarfon: no trials
  • Newcastle: no trials
  • Newport: no trials
  • Northampton: 1 trial
  • Norwich: 1 trial with backer
  • Nottingham: 2 trials
  • Oxford: 1 trial
  • Plymouth: no trials
  • Portsmouth: 1 trial only courts 1 and 6 sitting
  • Preston: 1 trial
  • Reading: 2 trials
  • Salisbury: no trials
  • Sheffield: 2 trials
  • Shrewsbury: 1 trial
  • Snaresbrook:2 trials
  • Southampton:1 trial with only 2 courts sitting
  • Southwark: 1 trial, courts 2,3,5,6,7,11,12,13, 15 not sitting but Prospero House has 3 trials listed today
  • St Albans: No trials, trial matter listed at Luton
  • Stafford: 2 trials
  • Stoke: no trials
  • Swansea: 1 trial, sitting at Newport
  • Swindon: 1 trial, another trial is listed at Bristol
  • Taunton: 1 trial
  • Teesside: No trials and only 3 courts sitting
  • Truro: 1 trial
  • Warwick: 2 trials
  • Coventry: 1 trial
  • Winchester: 2 trials
  • Wolverhampton: 1 trial court
  • Wood Green: no trials save a trial of fact, courts 1,2,5,8,9,10 not sitting
  • Woolwich: 1 trial
  • Worcester: 1 trial
  • York: 1 trial

If this were a school report, it might read “talks too much and could do a lot better”

The strategy to address this must be communicated to us all and soon.


Disappointingly we have not had the announcement yet. It is imminent but the S.I. needs to be laid before it is too late. Why is this being delayed? With all of the savings made over the last few months it is not a question of affordability.


National Lampoons European Vacation.
Sounds on message frankly.

Stay Safe


Caroline Goodwin QC

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