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Closure of Northern Ireland courts 'will undermine law system'

By Michael McHugh

Published 09/02/2016

The confirmed closure of six courthouses in Northern Ireland will undermine the justice system, the Law Society has said
The confirmed closure of six courthouses in Northern Ireland will undermine the justice system, the Law Society has said

The confirmed closure of six courthouses in Northern Ireland will undermine the justice system, the Law Society has said.

An increased volume of cases being spread across a more limited range of court venues could cause overcrowding and delays of business, president of the solicitors' body, John Guerin, said.

Armagh, Ballymena, Limavady, Lisburn, Magherafelt and Strabane will close but Newtownards and Enniskillen have been reprieved, Justice Minister David Ford confirmed.

Mr Guerin said: "Court closures will cause greater disruption, inconvenience and unnecessary stress to court users and those seeking access to justice.

"The reality is that a reduced court infrastructure will mean an increased volume of cases being spread across a more limited range of court venues resulting in the potential for overcrowding and delays of business."

Mr Ford faced a barrage of criticism at Stormont from MLAs whose constituencies included closing courthouses. Lagan Valley MLA Edwin Poots said Lisburn court users would face "the mayhem of Laganside Courts, which is already bursting at the seams."

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