Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 27 April 2023.

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Photo of Steve Reed Steve Reed Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate he has made of the average unused court capacity in each year since 2010 for which figures are available.

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Since 2015, HMCTS had the following number of sessions recorded as either available or unavailable to schedule and hold face to face hearings:


Available verified sessions

Unavailable verified sessions

FY 15-16



FY 16-17



FY 17-18



FY 18-19



FY 19-20



FY 20-21



FY 21-22



HMCTS record a session being unavailable for a number of reasons, including important alternative uses. This includes:

  • box work
  • case-related unavailability
  • commercial use (e.g., filming)
  • community engagement
  • where the room is connected to chambers which are in use
  • court closures due to severe weather or security incidents, holidays (not public holiday) or formerly due to COVID-19
  • external meetings (e.g., Court User Group)
  • use for external organisations (e.g., Coroner)
  • Judges office, meeting space, mentoring and/or reading time
  • maintenance work
  • mediation (parties present)
  • overspill
  • room closed due to COVID outbreak
  • Single Justice Procedure
  • staff meetings and/or training
  • telephone conference (obsolete)
  • video link being used for hearing/trial (obsolete)
  • video link being used for other matter
  • writing judgment.

Data collection in OPT Courtroom Planner was introduced in April 2015. The data was suspended in April 2020 due to COVID-19 disruption and resumed in September 2020. The data between April and August 2020 is therefore incomplete.

Please note all data provided is internal and subject to data quality issues inherent in any large-scale manual system.

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