The criminal bar has instructed heavyweight law firm Mishcon de Reya to help it fight controversial proposals to extend Covid-19 operating hours to more courts.

HM Courts & Tribunals Service is considering rolling out the model from January. A rapid consultation on the proposals closed yesterday.

The Criminal Bar Association accused HMCTS of breaching the Equality Act 2010 and warned that it ‘will take action’. Yesterday, the association revealed that it has instructed Mischon de Reya in its fight. The firm has asked the Equality and Human Rights Commission to assess the extent to which HMCTS has complied with its public sector equality duties.

The letter to the commission states that the CBA is concerned that HMCTS is using the pandemic ‘as an excuse to drive through, without meaningful consultation, reforms to court operating hours that have previously been shown to be unworkable and discriminatory’.