Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Video Link Court Appearances

A case I have been dealing with was concluded at the Magistrates Court today. A rough history of the case is that my Client appeared in custody and was refused bail. He should have appeared the following week over a video link from prison to make a second bail application. It took three attempts on consecutive days before his image was successfully projected in to the Court for his appearance to take place. Then the case was adjourned to be committed to the Crown Court. On the next appearance the Crown Prosecution Service failed to send a Prosecutor to Court to deal with the case! When someone from the CPS did attend at Court the case was adjourned to the next week.

Today the committal took place despite a Court strike. There should have been a 9.00 am conference over the video link. This was not possible due to staff shortages. The case went ahead after several delays and eventually the case was committed to the Crown Court.

I billed the file in the afternoon and added together the times that had basically been wasted by other agencies. There was a total of 10 hours waiting, and over 4 hours worth of travel. If this case had been without the delays waiting would have been reduced to less than an hour, travel would have been about 2 hours maximum.

Why am I ranting about this case? When they brought in video link hearings they were designed to reduce delays, and increase the volume of cases dealt with. Video link hearings are scheduled so that cases have specific time slots. Due to a combination of factors in this case I now have a case that the Legal Services Commission would probably enjoy to audit and then suggest that I had over claimed due to excessive travel and waiting times!

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