A few weeks ago I mentioned the trouble brewing in Liverpool over plans to impose Sunday Court Sittings in Criminal cases –
I have rarely seen the profession so strongly united against a proposal which was being rushed through without any real thought, or even costing.
Since then there have been meetings at Liverpool Magistrates’ court and at a local Law firm attended by the Vice President of the National Law Society. It was clear that the solicitors affected had genuine and well reasoned concerns -
If they have to work Sundays then they would have to require some staff to do the same.
Other agencies including the Prison Service, Probation Service, Social Services might also be required to be available. Indeed it seems that the prison service could not give any assurance that those in custody on a Sunday would be dealt with them. So they would end up back in the police station anyway.
Relatives would find it difficult to travel to court on a Sunday when public transport is reduced.
The scheme depended on solicitors’ volunteering to attend as duty solicitors for anyone arrested on a Saturday. The lawyers unanimously agreed that nobody would volunteer. If one of their own clients were arrested then they would honour their professional obligations to their clients but would not otherwise support a scheme which was, by anyone’s reckoning harebrained!
The updated position is summarised in the Law Society’s Gazette in a report where the Virtual Lawyer gets a mention!
The scheme has been shelved for now. Hopefully it will now be scrapped altogether.