Empty buildings could be converted into courtrooms to keep the justice system moving, according to a leading barrister.

Richard Wright, QC, leader of the northeastern circuit of the Bar of England and Wales, points out many existing courtrooms are incompatible with social distancing measures.

Stressing that this is contributing to delaying access to justice across the board, Mr Wright calls for a collective “effort and initiative on a scale that we have never seen before”.

Writing in The Times, he continues: “It is our obligation to strive to find practical solutions and to do so quickly. Magna Carta declared: ‘To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.’”

One such solution, he suggests, is to adapt empty buildings, many of which will be in public ownership already, to become the venues for socially distanced hearings.

Pointing to the way in which the army was used to help build the Nightingale hospitals in days and the hundreds of thousands of individuals who signed up as NHS volunteers, Mr Wright adds that the government should now look to harness a sense of “collective national effort” to provide workable short and medium-term solutions to keep the justice system running smoothly.