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Justice Select Committee publishes report on Court and Tribunal Reform

Inquiry on the court reform programme

11 November 2019
Justice Select Committee publishes report on Court and Tribunal Reform

The Justice Select Committee has published the report of their inquiry on the court reform programme. The report warns that sufficient steps have not been taken to address the needs of vulnerable users and raises a range of concerns, including:

  • Poor digital skills, limited access to technology and low levels of literacy and legal knowledge raise barriers for accessing new digital services. The committee concludes that HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has not taken sufficient steps to address the needs of vulnerable users, who lack adequate legal advice and support, and recommends that the network of assisted digital centres be extended to deliver national coverage with walk-in access.
  • Staff shortages are so severe that they may undermine access to justice and threaten to compromise the fairness of proceedings. The committee recommends that HMCTS must not proceed with planned staffing cuts unless it is confident in being able to provide an acceptable service.
  • That closures of magistrates’ and county courts have created difficulties for many court users, who are now expected to travel too far to attend court. The committee recommends that there should be no further court closures without robust analysis of the effects of the closures that have already been implemented. Supplementary venues should be established in areas affected by closures.
  • That the interests of justice are not being served by unreliable video equipment and WiFi facilities. The committee recommends that HMCTS must expedite planned investment for upgrading these.

The full report can be found here, and the MA’s statement in response to the report can be found here. A response from HMCTS, stating that they ‘don’t believe the report presents a balanced assessment of reform’ is available here.

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