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Lord Chief Justice publishes 2019 annual report

Including modernisation for the judiciary


08 November 2019
Lord Chief Justice publishes 2019 annual report

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, has published his annual report for 2019, which discusses a range of topics including modernisation for the judiciary and the courts and tribunals service, appointments and diversity, external engagement, and the status of courts across different jurisdictions.

Key points of interest noted in the report include:

  • A shortfall in the number of magistrates, despite falling workloads in magistrates’ courts. This has been exacerbated by reduced recruitment in recent years, resignations and the mandatory retirement age of 70.
  • The creation of 23 dedicated recruitment advisory committees in June 2019 and the introduction of a new end-to-end recruitment process for magistrates.
  • A 12% increase in private law cases started in the family courts compared to the previous year.
  • A significant rise in the number of public law cases coming to court over the last three years, leading to an increase in the backlog of work and a consequential increase in the time taken to dispose of cases.
  • New distance learning and training packs produced by the Judicial College, including a refresh of the Domestic Abuse (Crime) training materials, and new appraisal forms and guidance.


The Lord Chief Justice notes the huge pressures on resources throughout the system, remarking that he is ‘gravely concerned about the implications for access to justice’. He also said that, ‘The judges and magistrates of England and Wales at every level do a remarkable job in difficult circumstances. They are dedicated to the public interest. They have my profound thanks for what they do and deserve the thanks of all those they serve… This has not been an easy year and the future is replete with financial and other uncertainty.’

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