In some countries, criminal and civil cases may, under certain circumstances, be decided in the absence of defendants; and a person who is prevented or impeded by financial factors from attending court is normally at a disadvantage in not being present to defend his innocence or his interests. This may happen when the location of the court necessitates travel or when attendance at court would cause the defendant to lose earnings for the time spent there.
People in rural areas may experience difficulties due to the expense of reaching the seat of the nearest appropriate court. Having arrived there they may incur further expense by way of accommodation costs and loss of earnings while waiting for their case to be reached by the court. Any person involved as a party in judicial proceedings may suffer expense due to the necessity of waiting, together with counsel and witnesses, for a court to reach his case.
The financial problems that arise out of the geographical inaccessibility of courts may be aggravated by the fact that the seats of certain local courts, which once coincided with the main centres of population, no longer do so. Thus, in England and Wales, the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice, which has original criminal and civil jurisdiction over more serious cases and a supervisory and appellate jurisdiction over certain lower courts, sits not only in London, but also in certain assize towns, which must be visited periodically; the choice of assize towns was made some centuries ago, however, and no longer adequately reflects the distribution of population, especially as affected by the industrial revolution.