The Ministry of Justice has provided more information about
centralisation for divorce processing in England and Wales, but only in
response to a further Freedom of Information Request.
The FoI request was submitted by Tony Roe of Berkshire firm, Tony Roe Solicitors
. Mr Roe says that it was made due to the lack of clarity in the MoJ's reply to his original request
after he asked for a likely final list
of all the courts that will remain able to process divorce
The MoJ's reply reveals:1. Agreed divorce centres
'The agreed divorce centres for England and Wales are as
- Midlands –
Nottingham and Stoke
- North East –
Doncaster, Durham and Bradford. These centres are operational and currently
Harrogate is operating as a fourth centre before work is transferred to Bradford
in January 2015.
- North West –
Liverpool (phased implementation 14 December to 15 February)
- Wales – Neath,
Newport and Wrexham.'
'Implementation dates differ because each region has decided
the appropriate date based on factors such as such as availability of
accommodation, movement of resources and consultation/communication with
3. Likely venue for the London and South East Centre: Bury St
the South West divorce centre is planned for April 2015. This is because the region needed time to consider the potential
accommodation options as well as the impact of other projects being undertaken
in the region.'
'Bury St Edmunds has been identified as the likely venue for
the London and South East Centre but consultation has not been completed. If the
current proposal is accepted implementation will not commence until 2015 because
the Bury St Edmunds building is being refurbished and is currently unoccupied.
Building works are expected to be completed in March 2015.
4. Likely venue for theSouth
Bury St Edmunds was proposed as the divorce centre for the
South East and London following a thorough review of the HMCTS estate, London
and South East workload and resource availability. The Bury building was the
most cost effective option, is a sufficient size and provides the greatest scope
to improve the service delivered to court users.'
Combined Court is proposed as the divorce centre for the South West for the
following reasons. The court has staff resources and office space available due
to the movement of some other administrative work out of Southampton.
Consequently the recruitment and set up costs for the new unit would be
significantly reduced.The legal resource in
Southampton is also sufficient in terms of Legal Advisers, which includes the
pool available across Hampshire. In terms of judiciary, Southampton and the
surrounding area has the highest proportion of District Judge allocation in the
Mr Roe said, 'It is astounding that London, supposed divorce capital of the world, is not
to have a divorce centre of its own. Where there is an international element to
a matter, one needs to be able to attend court and issue on an urgent basis. The
MoJ has not set out how these emergency jurisdictional aspects might be dealt
with. We need to see a much more detailed and considered approach, and one
that does not simply focus on costs.'
The FoI request and reply can be read in full here.