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Possessions Backlog - government shuts half of Nightingale courts

Around half of the Nightingale courts set up in 2020 at the height of the pandemic are to close, with the rest committed to remain operating until March 2023.

Temporary courts were opened in sports centres, hotels and conference suites - initially to allow the social distancing which was difficult in traditional courts, and more recently to help clear huge backlogs of cases, including for rental possession hearings.

Eleven of the Nightingale courts will close this spring but another 12 in England and Wales will stay open for one more year.


Justice minister James Cartlidge says: “Nightingale courts continue to be a valuable weapon in the fight against the pandemic’s unprecedented impact on our courts providing temporary extra capacity.

“Combined with other measures – such as removing the cap on Crown Court sitting days, more use of remote hearings, and increasing magistrate sentencing powers – we are beginning to see the backlog drop so victims can get the speedier justice they deserve.”

In addition to these temporary courts a series of other measures - including 3,265 cloud video platform virtual court rooms accommodating some 13,600 hearings per week - were created to reduce pandemic backlogs.


In spring 2021 the National Residential Landlords Association estimated possession cases from landlords has a 12 month backlog.

The government now says the impact of its measures, alongside the re-opening of 60 Crown courtrooms since the peak of the virus, has led to the crown court backlog dropping to just under 59,000, while in the magistrates’ courts, the outstanding criminal caseload has dropped by almost 70,000 cases since its peak in July last year.

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