Letter: Justice for all

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I must take issue with Anthony Scrivener QC (Comment, 26 April) on his sideswipe at High Court judges going out on circuit. Somewhat irrationally, he delivers it on the basis that litigants should not have to travel a long way to have their cases (or some aspect of them) heard before a High Court judge. He complains bitterly at barristers and others having to travel to Bristol from London to have a case heard there when it had no connection with Bristol, except that it was where the judge happened to be sitting.

Until the recent transfer of some judicial review sittings to the Northern Circuit from London, I felt much the same way at having to explain to clients why a wholly North-Western judicial review case could only be heard in London, whereas (for example) a professional negligence action or major criminal case could be heard close to home by a High Court judge sitting on circuit, even though the same judge could hear the judicial review case when sitting in London.

Litigants outside London should be able to get convenient justice in their regions equivalent to that available in London to Londoners. High Court judges sitting on this circuit now hear almost the whole range of work from the Queen's Bench, Family and Chancery Divisions.

High Court judges represent the highest quality pool of judicial expertise available nationally. That whole pool should be available to litigants nationally and not just in the capital.

Mr Scrivener's complaint at having to be dragged to Bristol should be directed at the judge in question, not to the circuit system.