The MA has submitted its responses to the crime and family Judicial Ways of Working consultation papers. While the MA welcomes the underlying aims of the reform agenda to improve the efficiency of the justice system, we are alarmed by some of the proposals set out in these papers. Among other things, we have:
- Expressed concerns about the roll-out of virtual hearings (now described as fully video hearings)
- Suggested that more work should be done to evaluate the possible impact of proposals for greater use of video-link, court closures and delegating judicial powers to legal advisers, to ensure that fairness, transparency and effectiveness is assured
- Highlighted concerns that the most vulnerable people in society (including those with disabilities) may be excluded from accessing digital services such as online pleas
- Drawn attention to the fact that in the family court the high proportion of litigants in person is a particular concern in relation to digitisation, as security and confidentiality are vital as well as accessibility
The MA's responses are available by clicking on the links below:
If you have any queries regarding this, please contact MA Director of Policy and Research Dr Jo Easton.
There is still time for members who are sitting magistrates to respond to the consultation individually – the deadline is tomorrow, Friday 15 June 2018, at 17:00. The consultation documents and a link to the survey are available for sitting magistrates here.
Reform Meetings (Courts and Magistrates Judiciary)
There will also be a programme of meetings around the country where members of the Judicial Reform Board and leadership judges will be available to answer your questions and discuss your ideas. Sitting magistrates can find more information and book a place here.
Reform update from HMCTS
HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has published an update on progress on the reform agenda, which sets out what has already been completed across criminal, family and civil courts and tribunals, and what further work will be carried out by HMCTS in the next 18 months. Alongside this, HMCTS has published descriptions of the projects included in the reform programme, available here.