The council has agreed to provide a space to hold civil and family hearings after the closure of the Chichester Combined Courts following a shake-up of provision by the Ministry of Justice.

A pilot for the service took place last July which proved successful, and now Chichester District Council has offered space in its committee rooms for up to 50 Fridays per year. The first official sitting took place on Friday 4 January.

The types of cases being heard are non-criminal and those that are considered to be lowest risk, including small claims and possession cases.

Leader of Chichester District Council, Councillor Tony Dignum, said: "Last year's trial went extremely well and so we are very pleased to be able to offer this provision and support to the Ministry of Justice. We have worked very closely with HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to create a solution that helps keep on-going court provision in the city, and ensures that residents continue to have local access to justice when they need it. The arrangement will also save the taxpayer money by providing better use of government buildings."

John Miller, HMCTS Estates Reform Lead South East Region, says: "We are delighted that hearings are now taking place at Chichester District Council offices, this is great news for local court users and their continued access to justice.

"Initial feedback has been positive and I'd like to thank the council for their support in making this happen."

Date of release: 30 January 2019

Reference: 3875