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MoJ considering privatising courtrooms and staff

Radical plans to privatise the court system to save £1bn a year are being considered at the top levels of Whitehall, according to a report in The Times today.

The newspaper said the plans would “end the system that has existed since Magna Carta”, with court buildings and staff transferred to private companies.

Its report suggests extra funding would come from charging high fees to “wealthy litigants” plus encouraging more private sector investment from those looking for a return. But court independence would be assured by a Royal Charter.

Justice secretary Chris Grayling is said to be “strongly in favour” of the idea, or a less radical version which would see just the buildings rather than staff transfer to private sector control. 

Former Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, told The Times: “I am all in favour of making more money from commercial court users, and I am also all in favour of those who commit crime making a bigger contribution to the courts. What I am not in favour of is privatising the courts. The courts should not be beholden to any private provider because the courts have to be independent of every interest.

“In particular I would be strongly against court buildings being placed in the hands of private providers. We should not have [them] influencing when courts open and close their doors or judges having to negotiate with private contractors over whether, for instance, a court can be open on a Saturday for an emergency injunction.”

(Image of the Royal Coat of Arms on a court building courtesy Elliott Brown, used here under a Creative Commons licence.)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Wasateacher   30/05/2013 at 10:32

Privatisation of the previously public sector has not improved services. It is vital that justice is not in the hands of those whose interest is in profit making. The private sector has not been found to be particularly moral and, although, there are a few cases of corruption in the public sector in most cases it has been the private sector instigating the corruption. There are far more cases of corruption in the private sector. Our legal services must be above politics and outside profit. Bringing in either exposes us, again, to having the status of a 3rd world county.

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