Judge warns Northamptonshire barristers as ‘cross-courting’ reaches epidemic proportions

Her Honour Judge Rebecca Crane sits at Northampton Crown Court
Her Honour Judge Rebecca Crane sits at Northampton Crown Court

A judge at Northampton Crown Court reached boiling point on the hottest day of the year while telling barristers the practice of ‘cross-courting’ had become unacceptable.

Her Honour Judge Rebecca Crane was angered after she was left waiting to hear Thursday (July 25) morning’s cases because under-pressure barristers were representing clients in more than one court at the same time.

One hard-working barrister, Priya Bakshi, was representing the crown against a paedophile stalker in Judge Lucking’s court five. But she was also representing a grievous bodily harm defendant due to be sentenced in court two on the same morning.

Other barristers were also representing more than one client, as has become the norm at the hard-pressed Northampton Crown Court which last year heard 1,050 cases and had the longest waiting times in the country. The court has been under increasing pressure to ensure cases are heard in a timely manner.

Ms Bakshi found herself in the firing line of Judge Crane. She said: “Cross-courting has reached epidemic proportions.

“Counsel are being unrealistic.

“I say this generally to the bar.

“The level of cross-courting has reached epidemic proportions and it’s unacceptable.

“Counsel need to consider more carefully if they can cross-court in the future.

“The listing office cannot give permission to cross-court - only a judge can do so.”

In 2017, Her Honour Judge Margaret De Haas QC, designated family judge for Cheshire and Merseyside, issued a warning in the Liverpool Law Society magazine Liverpool Law that cross-courting was leading to significant delays in the family court. She proposed sanctions including calling the case into court in the absence of one of the representatives or bringing the advocate to court to explain themselves.

Last week the Northants Telegraph reported on the case of a rape victim who had to wait four years for justice, which one barrister described as a ‘matter of national shame.’