HM Courts & Tribunals Service has announced a flexible working pilot scheme which will include the Manchester Civil Justice Centre. Nicholas Clough, Partner at Bromleys Solicitors LLP, gives his opinion.
“While at first blush the idea for longer court hours appears to be for the right reasons – to speed up the process and reduce the backlog of cases – once you look further into how it will affect practitioners and the public, the more it appears to be a flawed measure.
There will be a significant knock-on effect in terms of the already long hours that most solicitors and barristers work, and it’s going to make the working lives of those with young families even more difficult.
Childcare issues still fall more regularly on the shoulders of women than men, and longer hours at court could make young mothers in the legal profession think twice before returning to work after having children.
It would also make a work/life balance more difficult, especially for single parents.
In an age where the government is trying to get the legal profession to better reflect the diversity of the population, this appears a move that will have the opposite effect.
It could also raise issues for claimants and defendants with families having to attend court if they have no childcare cover.”