MOJ denies plans to privatise courts

Reports that the Ministry of Justice plans to privatise the courts – in a plan intended to save the Ministry of Justice £1 billion a year – have been vigorously denied.

The Times and the Telegraph have both reported that plans to privatise the courts are being considered which would free the courts from Treasurey control and place court buildings and thousands of staff in the hands of private companies. The system, it is claimed, would be “funded by extracting larger fees from wealthy litigants and private sector investment, and by encouraging hedge funds to invest by an attractive rate of return”.

However, the claims have been denied in the Guardian who state that the Ministry of Justice have dismissed wholesale privatisation claims, whilst still confirming that the government is looking at ways of improving the efficiency of the HM Courts & Tribunal Service.

The Guardian reports that an MoJ spokesperson stated:

“We have always said we are determined to deliver a courts system that is more effective and efficient and provides improved services for victims and witnesses. The proposals being considered are not the wholesale privatisation of the courts service.

“We are committed to the firm, fair and independent administration of justice.”

The report, which comes at a time when there are fears that access to justice is being eroded as a result of changes to legal aid eligibility, raises new fears that privatisation would erode the independence of the courts.

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