Tackle backlog with pop-up pub courts, suggests former appeal judge

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By Rhys Duncan on


Other options include libraries, churches and supermarkets

Pop-up courts should be set up in a range of unlikely places to restore faith in the criminal justice system and tackle the huge backlog in cases, a former Court of Appeal judge has reportedly suggested.

Libraries, pubs, supermarkets, church halls, and schools during the holidays have all been offered by Dame Anne Rafferty as locations for pop-up courts.

Whilst the “big sell” would be “lining up community with justice”, a “bonus point” would be a reduction in the sizeable backlog in the crown courts, currently sitting at 67,000 cases.

“This is the time to do it,” the former judge told The Times newspaper (£). “Covid has advanced IT massively and, more importantly, we are not troubled by vast amounts of documents having to be transported to the venue and locked up securely overnight. We use laptops and tablets.”

“The community can embrace justice and justice can position itself locally, as it always did and should still do,” she continued.

“Possible venues: library, church hall, school during the holidays, pub, disused newspaper building, supermarket with spare area. Look for buildings in daily use but with slack, or buildings just sitting there.”

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A trial could be run with coroner’s inquests, Dame Anne Rafferty suggested, before being expanded to other forms of hearing.

Alongside the use of new locations, the Chancellor of the University of Sheffield said that the local Women’s Institute could be encouraged to feed lawyers and families at the courts, with local colleges offering catering courses also on the list of potential suppliers.

This wouldn’t be the first time that an odd location was used for legal proceedings however. Back in 2020, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service used an Odeon cinema in Edinburgh to host a socially-distanced remote jury trial.



Or just stop inconsequential matters coming to court and save everyone time and money.


Who gets decide what is inconsequential? You?


Everyone, even you!

A lot of stuff going through the courts is trivial, that’s why we have a backlog.

Just a thought…

How about using some of the many closed court rooms that exist in public buildings up and down the country?

Given tech is mobile now, everyone with a laptop and a personal hotspot on their mobile should mean that it works.

A short list of examples:

The closed Magistrates Courts that haven’t been turned over to other uses eg Maidenhead, Chichester, Liverpool Dale Street etc.

Disused Court rooms in public buildings eg Oxford County Hall and Town Hall.

Court rooms in buildings that have been turned over to other uses but which still have the Court rooms in situ eg, Liverpool’s St George’s Hall, Nottingham Galleries of Justice etc.

Junior Leachman

Brilliant idea Justice Dame Anne Rafferty.

Cocoa the Clowyn

Pop up courts? Given the state of public finances a large pop up tent is probably the best we can hope for!

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