Court reform programme criticised by parliamentary committee

HM Courts and Tribunals Service’s (HMCTS) attempt to modernise the courts and tribunals system in England and Wales has come under fire from a key parliamentary committee responsible for assessing public expenditure.

In a report published today, the Commons Public Accounts Committee criticised HMCTS for a lack of progress in its court modernisation programme and called for clearer information on the direction of travel and more meaningful engagement on the programme.

The cross-party committee went on to make a series of recommendations, shaped by the Law Society’s evidence.

The MPs’ conclusions mirrored the Law Society concerns raised in oral evidence at the recent inquiry in response to the publication of a report on the ‘transforming courts and tribunals’ programme - published by the National Audit Office in May 2018.

Law Society president Christina Blacklaws said: “The government is spending a great deal of public money making the court estate fit for 21st century justice, but the absence of a proper strategy is all too evident.

“While the Law Society is supportive of modernisation that could improve efficiency, we are concerned about many areas of the reform programme. Justice should always be about what the individual needs, never about what they can afford.

”We endorse the concerns the committee has raised, and we welcome the fact that they have taken so many of our points on board.

“We now look forward to seeing how HMCTS proposes to address them, and to working with HMCTS for the purpose of trying to ensure that our members’ concerns are understood and, as far as possible, addressed.”

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