Judges: Coronavirus

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 11th January 2021.

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Photo of Sarah Olney Sarah Olney Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Transport)

To ask the Secretary State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to support fee-paid judges who have not earned enough this year to repay the loan offered by the judicial hardship fund.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The Ministry of Justice is committed to supporting fee-paid judges who have been affected by reduced sittings as a result of COVID-19.

We introduced the hardship scheme in May to enable advance payments to be made to fee-paid judges who were struggling financially. This was on the understanding that this money would be recovered gradually from recipients as sittings resumed.

We reviewed the repayment terms in August and, as a result, have made the following changes to make it easier for fee-paid judges to repay the advance:

  • the start date for repayments was moved from September to November 2020, to allow more time for sittings to recover;
  • recipient judges need only begin repayments once their judicial fee income reaches 70% of their monthly average for 2019-20, to ensure that repayments are affordable; and
  • judges can choose to spread repayments over the period up to 31 March 2022.

We will continue to monitor the situation and will review repayment arrangements, on request, for anyone in the scheme who is concerned that they may struggle to make payment in full by March 2022.

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