HMCTS are investing £1 billion in their seven-year reform programme to modernise the courts and tribunals system. The programme aims to create services that are digital by default and design including digitising paper-based services, moving cases online, court closures, introducing virtual hearings, and centralising customer services.
The Law Society agrees that a modernised court service and efficient use of technology would benefit all users. However, this must not come at the expense of justice. The system must be open, accessible and affordable. Moreover, those who use the system must be able to get independent legal advice and representation from qualified professionals at the points where they need it. To achieve this, we are engaging with HMCTS to ensure our views and the views of our members, and the needs of clients, are fully considered in the development of proposals and design of reformed services.
Solicitors are integral in shaping the HMCTS programme which will fundamentally transform the role of a solicitor in any type of litigation - from corporate firms to high street firms - and we must ensure it works for them. To assist with this, we are working with our policy committees and the wider legal community to ensure we understand what aspects of the programme cause concern, so we can try to persuade HMCTS to address those concerns.
To help you understand and adapt to the changes, whether welcome or unwelcome, we will keep you informed of developments, be a trusted source of insight and guidance, and notify you of upcoming HMCTS events including roadshows, workshops, online events and research sessions, which we encourage you to engage in.
The Law Society has responded to HM Courts & Tribunal Service (HMCTS) prospectus seeking views on its flexible operating hours pilots.
The quality of legal representation for anyone accused of wrongdoing in England and Wales will be damaged significantly by new cuts to defence solicitor fees.
Speed, ease and efficiency are laudable objectives for the court system in England and Wales, but current proposals for a flexible operating hours pilot raise far more concerns than solutions. When the plan to pilot extended court opening hours was first announced in May, the Law Society warned HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) that the scheme could heap more pressure on an already fragile system.
Last Tuesday, the prime minister announced that she will be asking Parliament to vote for a general election on 8 June. On Wednesday, the House of Commons surpassed the two thirds majority needed to approve the motion by 522 to 13.
This week the Prisons and Courts Bill will return to the House of Commons to undertake Committee Stage and our Head of Justice will be giving evidence to the Committee on Tuesday.
If you have any queries regarding the court reform programme or would like more information on member engagement, please contact Valerie Robertson or Emily Weidner.
Attend the Civil Litigation autumn conference 2019 and learn about changes to the Civil Procedure Rules, what civil litigators and dispute resolution experts need to know, gain practical advice in relation to e-filling.