North Lincolnshire Council is set to save time and resources through the Single Justice Procedure, a new way of dealing with specific court cases.
The Single Justice Procedure was introduced by the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 and applies to low level regulatory matters; ultimately saving the courts and the council time.
Certain council cases will be dealt with in a closed court session, referring to paperwork only and parties involved will not be required to attend court.
The council regularly issues prosecutions in the Magistrates Court for various matters. The parties involved would then attend court, including a council solicitor, the defendant, and the defendant’s legal representative and on some occasions the council officer from the relevant department.
Some of the cases that could be dealt with through the Single Justice Procedure include non-school attendance, littering and noise nuisance.
The council will issue the prosecutions with the court in the usual way and produce a Single Justice Procedure Notice that will be sent to the court and the defendant.
Should a defendant wish to attend court, they still have this option and they would have to inform the court of this. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the matter would be dealt with in an open court.
North Lincolnshire Magistrates court is scheduled to close on 22 December and all cases from then on will be dealt with at Grimsby Magistrates Court. The Single Justice Procedure will be very beneficial once this happens as it will save on travel time and resources needed at the court.
It is expected that a magistrate will consider between 200 and 400 cases in one Single Justice Procedure session. The courts will feedback the results to the council.
The Single Justice Procedure is expected to start in the New Year.
Councillor Richard Hannigan, cabinet member for governance and transformation, said: “Although I am very disappointed with the imminent closure of North Lincolnshire Magistrates Court, the introduction of the Single Justice Procedure is very timely. Previously our officers and the defendant would have had to attend court for low level regulatory matters, but time and resources will be saved with this new process and means there will be less trips to Grimsby.
“The types of crimes that will be dealt with in this way will include cases for littering, noise nuisance, and non-school attendance.”