HC Deb 14 February 2002 vol 380 cc616-7W
Mr. David Atkinson

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if county courts will sit on bank holidays and Other holiday periods in response to an application by a local authority for a possession order; and if he will make a statement. [34900]

Mr. Wills

In order to cater for incidents that may require the attention of a judge, including applications for urgent possession orders, out of normal office hours, on bank holidays and other holiday periods, the Court Service provides a system known as the Urgent Court Business Scheme. This scheme allows for an experienced member of court staff to be contacted during the night, weekends or public holidays, Every circuit has arrangements in place for handling urgent court business outside normal office hours. Urgent business consists of Injunctions, Children Act applications, and other urgent applications such as Possession order applications. Cover is provided between 4.00 pm and 8.30 pm each weekday, between 4.00 pm on Friday until 8.30 am on Monday for each weekend and from 4.00 pm on the last day preceding a public or privilege holiday that the court is open until 8.30 am on the day the court is next open. There will always be a judge available in each UCBO area to deal with urgent court business. In the vast majority of cases the judge will deal with matters over the telephone. Only in the most extreme case should the judge have to meet with the applicant's solicitor. Where this is unavoidable the venue will be arranged by the UCBO in consultation with the judge and the solicitor involved.