The members of Lisburn Solicitors Association are seeking local people’s help to ensure that Lisburn Courthouse does not close.
A consultation paper has been drawn up by the Department of Justice (DOJ) proposing that Lisburn Courthouse be closed along with seven others in order to make savings.
Chairman of the Association, Janice Spence explained: “The Department claims that the closure of Lisburn Court House will result in a saving of £143,865.00 per annum. The Department of Justice has a budget of £1044.7 million for 2015-2016. Of this it is indicated that £41.6 million would be allocated to Court Service. Therefore the proposed closure of your Court would result in a net saving of only 0.0001% out of the total DOJ budget.”
She continued: “We are looking for input from all Court users and stake holders, and would ask you to make your objections to the proposed closure known to your Councillor and MLA or to any member of the legal profession in Lisburn, as soon as possible. Most of us hope that we will never have to appear before a Judge in Court.
“However, if we do, we would hope to find ourselves in a local Court represented by a local Solicitor,” she added.
“Lisburn Courthouse forms an important part of the professional life of your local Solicitors, a place where business is conducted, clients are represented, and where we aim to assist clients in achieving the best result. It also forms an important function within the community in dispensing justice for misdemeanours carried out locally,” Janice commented.
“Local Solicitors accept that like all Departments in the Executive, the DOJ must make cuts.” However, Janice continued: “We as an Association believe that a City needs a Courthouse and that its citizens should have access to justice on their doorstep. If it closes, Lisburn citizens will have to travel to Belfast to attend Court and access justice, with all of the attendant difficulties and expenses which that will involve.”
Ulster Unionist Councillor Alexander Redpath, who is also a practising solicitor, commented: “If Lisburn Courthouse closes this will force court users to go to Belfast. Belfast is a much larger, more hectic and stressful environment for court users. This will also force court users, many of whom are the poorest in society, to incur significant transport costs. I would urge as many people as possible to respond to the consultation by the closing date of April 30. We need to send a strong message to the Department of Justice that Lisburn needs and deserves a courthouse and that the proposed savings don’t justify the withdrawal of this service.”