Court closure paper due

The Justice Minister intends to launch a consultation on the closure of court houses across Northern Ireland, including the court in Limavady, in the new year.

A full two years since the Minister, Alliance MLA David Ford, announced that Limavady court house would close, it remains open. The closure was originally intended to take place during 2013.

However, Mr Ford explained in January 2014 that the closure could not go ahead until the introduction of a Bill to the Northern Ireland Assembly that would see the formation of a single jurisdiction for county court and magistrates’ court business. Again, it was intended that the Bill would be introduced during 2013 and was later delayed to “spring 2014”.

However, the Justice Bill is now before the Assembly and a consultation paper is set to launched in the new year.

The Minister said: “On 22 November 2012 I announced my decision to close Magherafelt and Limavady Hearing Centres following the implementation of court boundary reforms contained in the Justice Bill which is currently before the Assembly.

“In response to significant budgetary pressures, the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service is reviewing the court estate to identify potential options for rationalisation.

“It is intended to launch a consultation paper in the new year.”

As recently as November of this year, the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service told the Journal that the “intention to close Limavady Courthouse remains”, but “it is necessary to bring forward some court boundary changes to facilitate the closure, which we expect will take place around September 2015”.