The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why Be Messed Around By Amateurs When You Can Be Messed Around By Professionals??

This email from a colleague in another part of London deserves wider circulation:-

I was in court yesterday and two trials cracked due to witnesses, counsel and defendants going to the wrong court. In the retiring room we shook our heads and remarked that this came as no surprise to those of us at the sharp end who could see this coming when the new LJA’s were announced meaning that cases in our area could appear in one of three possible courts and indeed, with each hearing being in a different one. On top of that, JP’s were crossing paths as ‘Bromley Magistrates’ were allocated to sit at Bexley (say) and vice versa. Hardly a sensible use of time or resources as expense/travel claims increase as a result. While we understand the rationale (or rather we don’t!!) is that as certain courts are allocated particular types of case so as to concentrate expertise, those JP’s will require to go to other courts to maintain competency generally, we are seeing the inevitable consequence of an ill thought through system.

I know that our clerks are keeping a record of such happenings but in our area, the movement of JP’s has been declared ‘not negotiable’ which has led to the inevitable resignation of some and a lot of muttering from others about the ridiculous position we now find ourselves in.
I spoke to one colleague who lives 4 minutes from Bexley Mags and who had taken well over an hour and a half to come to Bromley. It would take me a similar time to go the other way and at least an hour to get to Greenwich. My current rota gives me nearly half my sittings at a ‘foreign’ court. Crazy!! Of course we would all be willing to ‘fill in’ if need be, but this compulsory rota-ing is a nonsense.