HMCTS monthly bulletin – May 2019

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Bulletin header - "keeping you up to date with the news about HMCTS reform"

Issue 12 | May 2019

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Reminder to complete HMCTS communications survey

HMCTS has commissioned a detailed piece of research to inform and improve how it communicates with those who use, and work within, the justice system. The deadline for responses is 10 May 2019 and we would be grateful if you would participate.


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Professional entering a court

Professional court access scheme to be adopted nationally

Legal professionals will be able to enter courts and tribunals more easily thanks to the national roll out of a professional access scheme. Registrations for the national scheme start with the Bar Council, continuing with a phased approach involving other legal associations. The announcement coincides with HMCTS refreshing its court security materials.


Read more about the professional access scheme>>

Visit our news page to see the refreshed materials>>

HMCTS publishes response to Justice Select Committee (JSC) inquiry into court and tribunal reforms

The JSC inquiry is considering the progress made and the implications of planned changes, particularly in relation to access to justice. The Committee has now published the HMCTS written response to the inquiry into the reform programme.


View the full details of the HMCTS response to the committee>>

Read submissions of evidence to the committee>>

Even more people set to benefit from online court reform

New legislation making it even easier for court users to apply for small money claims or divorce online was unveiled in the House of Lords. The Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill will establish a judicially chaired committee tasked with developing new, simplified rules around online services in civil, family and tribunal proceedings.


Find out more about the legislation>>

Digital court system saves enough paper to cover Central Park twice

HMCTS Digital Case System has saved more than 100 million sheets of paper. Used in all Crown Courts across England and Wales, the Digital Case System allows case material to be accessed, prepared and presented digitally by the judge, clerk, defence, prosecution and probation service.


Read more about the paper savings which the system has generated since 2015>>

New routes to justice: Richard Susskind and Susan Acland-Hood discuss reform of courts & tribunals

In our first reform podcast, Susan and Richard reflect on digital courts and the progress of the reform programme. The conversation covers the direction of travel for digital courts and looks back at the recent international forum on online courts which they co-hosted.


Listen to the podcast or read a transcript>>

Inaugural regional roundtable held to promote court reporting

West Country media and court officials attended the first in a series of roundtable meetings in Bristol designed to promote the reporting of courts and tribunals. Jointly hosted by HMCTS and the Society of Editors, the event was organised as part of a wider effort to promote open justice and media access to court proceedings.


Read more about the inaugural meeting in the press release>>

Shrewsbury court users benefit from £5m government investment

Shrewsbury court users are benefitting from a state of the art new justice centre, thanks to £5m of government funding. Crown Court and social security cases will be heard at the town’s former magistrates’ court, which has been completely refurbished since its closure in 2016. The justice centre is part of HMCTS’ commitment to improving the condition of court buildings and access to justice for all users.


Read more about the inaugural meeting in the press release>>

Cardiff courts at the forefront of reform

Domestic abuse victims will benefit from increased support at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court. The Specialist Domestic Abuse Court, the largest of its kind in Wales, deals exclusively with domestic abuse cases to ensure they are dealt with in a timely and effective manner and victims receive the protection and support they need.


Find out more about it in the press release>>

Other HMCTS/MOJ news

New video hearings pilot will test “more robust software”

Legal Futures reported on the latest innovation plans for the modernisation of tribunals by Sir Ernest Ryder. The report includes plans for video hearings to be piloted for a second time in the tax tribunal, using “robust” technology after questions were raised about its reliability last year.


Read more details in the full Legal Futures report>>

Research at HMCTS

An overview of the way HMCTS gathers evidence and carries out an extensive programme of engagement and research, helping us to understand the needs and expectations of our users. It also helps us to understand the likely impacts of any changes made as part of the reforms and lets us evaluate whether they’re effective.


Find out more about our engagement and research>>

‘Upskirting’ law comes into force

Offenders face up to two years in jail, with the most serious put on the sex offenders register as a new law banning the invasive practice comes into force across England and Wales. The criminal offence of ‘upskirting’ was created under the Voyeurism Act when it received Royal Assent in February.


You can read more about it on GOV.UK>>

New divorce law to end the blame game

New legislation introduced to overhaul divorce law and reduce family conflict, meaning divorcing couples will no longer have to blame each other for the breakdown of their marriage. The move follows a public consultation where family justice professionals and those with direct experience of divorce voiced their support for reform.


Find out more about the legislation>>

Read the summary of the feedback received through the consultation and the government’s response>>

New support for witnesses of serious violence and murder

The Justice Secretary announced proposals for extra support to those who witness homicide and serious violence. The Ministry of Justice is considering a raft of new measures, which will focus on supporting victims and witnesses of violent crime and directing youth offenders away from further violence.


Read more about the proposals online>>

Round up of other news

More than 1000 new magistrates recruited in 2018

A new national recruitment process, designed by HMCTS and the judiciary, is helping to boost the number of new recruits. Specialist recruitment advisory committees have been assessing the needs of courts in their area and working with local people to ensure the magistracy better reflects their community.


Read more about the magistrates’ recruitment campaign>>

New programme to boost judicial diversity

Lawyers from under-represented groups will be better supported to become judges following the launch of a new online education programme. Developed using government funding, the programme is the first joint initiative from the Judicial Diversity Forum.


Find out more about the education programme online>>

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