Message from the Chair regarding Flexible Operating Hours

HMCTS has announced its intention to proceed with two flexible operating hours pilots: one for civil work in Brentford and one for civil and family work in Manchester. It has decided not to proceed with any pilots in crime, either in the Crown Court or the Magistrates Court. The prospectus for the pilots can be found here.

We are very concerned about the potential impact of these proposals upon our members. One of the stated objectives of the pilots is “to evaluate the impact of FOH on professional and public court users, and public agencies working in the justice system”. We will be monitoring that issue, and all others relevant to the pilots, very carefully.

PIBA worked with the Bar Council on its response to the last FOH consultation; we will continue to work with the Bar Council on this issue. We are represented on the Manchester Local Implementation Team by myself and Richard Whitehall [Deans Court Chambers]. We will do all that we can to secure representation on the Brentford LIT.

The types of hearings involved are limited, including Small Claims and Part 8/Stage 3 RTA applications. “Infant approval hearings” have been listed under work within the family courts pilot; this may well be an error and we will seek clarification from HMCTS.

HMCTS’s intention is to implement the pilots in Spring 2019.

Please do not hesitate to contact me or any of the PIBA Committee Members about this or any other issues. Our contact details are on the Contact page of the Website.

Darryl Allen QC

PIBA Chair






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