HC Deb 19 October 1966 vol 734 cc214-5
41. Mr. Whitaker

asked the Attorney General what would be the effect on the waiting delay for cases in the High Court if the High Court's vacation was reduced to the length of the national average length of annual holiday.

The Attorney-General (Sir Elwyn Jones)

While I am not sure what my hon. Friend means by "the national average length of annual holiday", it is, for various practical reasons, by no means certain that to reduce the High Court's vacation would necessarily produce a corresponding reduction in the interval between the setting down of cases for trial and their hearing. I should perhaps add that the Bar Council and the Law Society have set up a Joint Committee to investigate the question whether any changes should be made in the current arrangements for legal vacations.

Mr. Whitaker

Since every lawyer knows that one reason for the bottlenecks and delays in hearings in the High Court is the fact that the courts are empty for two months in the year, why cannot we have staggered shift working, so that these courts are employed whole-time, as the Old Bailey ones are?

The Attorney-General

That is by no means the unanimous view of lawyers. There are many practical reasons, including the use of court accommodation during vacations for other courts, like Quarter sessions; the fact that many Queen's Bench judges carry out public work during vacations, and the difficulty in having legal staff, expert witnesses and non-expert witnesses available for vacation cases, which would result in many applications for adjournment—quite apart from the work of maintenance and repair of frequently antiquated court buildings. All these are reasons which make it desirable that there should be an inquiry, and that is taking place.

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