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“We recognize the disruptive and potentially detrimental impact of working beyond regular hours on practitioners, both personally and professionally, especially for those with caregiving responsibilities.
“We reject the notion that there is any valid justification for deviating from standard court hours, and we have not observed an impact assessment preceding the HMCTS communication.”
Judges may be summoned to preside over late-night courts to address a ‘surge’ in charges following protests in London.
Over 100 activists from Just Stop Oil were apprehended by the Metropolitan Police on Monday after staging a demonstration on the A41 near Brent Cross.
These mass arrests follow the detention of 126 individuals by police on Saturday as counter-marcher groups gathered around the Cenotaph in central London, coinciding with a large march in support of Palestine.
In addition, the police are actively working to locate participants from past pro-Palestine marches suspected of expressing support for the terror group Hamas.
“On Monday afternoon, an email from the Legal Aid Agency was dispatched to solicitors, requesting legal representatives to be available at Highbury Corner magistrates court between 4 pm and 8 pm.
“HMCTS is organizing additional evening courts,” the communication stated, pinpointing Tuesday and Thursday of this week as potential dates requiring extra coverage.
This announcement stirred concern among lawyers who have consistently opposed Ministry of Justice initiatives aimed at extending working hours beyond the standard 10 am to 4:30 pm court day.”
In response, HMCTS shared an explanation on social media, stating: “As part of our contingency planning, we routinely collaborate with criminal justice partners to prepare for emerging issues, such as protests, that could result in increased court activity and affect the broader justice system.
“Seeking judicial approval to run additional courts is one contingency & would only be used at Highbury Corner Mags’ Court as a temporary measure when responding to a surge in demand.
“We have a statutory duty to ensure those held in custody are brought before the court as soon as practicable. None of which have been used so far this week.”
Eco-activist Greta Thunberg is among a group of protestors scheduled to appear at Westminster magistrates court on Wednesday morning, facing allegations of refusing to leave the road and causing disruption during a Just Stop Oil demonstration last month.
Scotland Yard reported on Tuesday morning that 115 Just Stop Oil activists had been apprehended on Monday for “slow marching on the A41 in Hendon.” Commander Colin Wingrove stated, “This has been the most amount of Just Stop Oil arrests we have made in a single day during their autumn campaign.
“Their disruption occurred a day after an emotional and intensive weekend in London.
“We want officers in our communities to be that reassuring presence. Instead, we are having to remove some of them to arrest and transport 115 activists to custody. “Protest is a fundamental part of democracy and something we are proud to uphold. However, Just Stop Oil is openly encouraging people to break the law and causing criminal damage, which we will not tolerate.”