Proposals to close Lynn’s county and family court would “significantly reduce” local access to justice if they are approved, a leading law organisation has warned.
A public consultation on plans to shut the King Street facility, along with dozens of other court and tribunal buildings in England and Wales, ended yesterday.
But, ahead of the deadline for comments, the Law Society, the body which represents solicitors, revealed its opposition to the proposal.
Its president, Jonathan Smithers, said: “The proposed closure of King’s Lynn County and Family Court will make it more difficult for a significant number of people to get to court, and the closures will more adversely affect people with disabilities and lower income families.
“Combined with the further planned increases in court fees and reductions in eligibility for legal aid, this closure will serve to deepen the inequalities in the justice system between those who can and cannot afford to pay.
“No matter who you are, no matter where you live, everyone must be able to access legal advice and the justice system.”
The closure plan was announced in July by the Ministry of Justice, which claims its case load does not justify keeping it open.
But the Law Society says that, although the department acknowledged that 40 per cent of users would have to travel for more than two hours to access an alternative court in Norwich, it has still underestimated the effects of its plans.
Both the town hall and the magistrates court building have been proposed as potential alternatives if the closure plan is implemented.
And, last month, West Norfolk Council passed a motion opposing the scheme and calling for other options to be considered.