Christl Hughes MBE for services to equality and charity
The AWS has considered the proposals and responds as follows:
- Women, who tend to have primary responsibility for caring, whether at the beginning or end of life, will be particularly adversely affected because they are less likely to be available to work extended hours. This, in turn, will lead to fewer women working as lawyers in criminal courts and defendants either being unrepresented as a consequence or being represented more frequently by male lawyers.
- The proposals are likely to create worse working conditions for female lawyers as they will be required to work anti-social hours.
- The pilots are unnecessary – the government has closed many courts since 2011. The pilots, it is assumed, are partly initiated to deal with a backlog created by the closure of such courts. Rather than introduce night courts with all the difficulties and potential gender imbalance that causes, the AWS asks the government to re-open the courts it has closed so as to deal with the backlog.
- Many District Judges have resigned in recent years and we believe that the reason for this is poor working conditions. The decision to open night courts is likely to lead to further resignations.
- There is a cost to running courts at night and the AWS would like to know whether consideration has been given to the additional financial outlay.
- Defendants are likely to have difficulties finding representation at night because fewer lawyers are likely to available. There are already some disturbing examples of defendants who require representation being unable to receive it.