The Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill will increase efficiency by allowing greater flexibility to deploy the right judge to the right case.
Appropriately qualified and experienced court and tribunal staff - authorised by the judiciary, and working under judicial supervision – will also be able to deal with routine matters, freeing up judges’ time to focus their expertise on matters that need it most.
This new legislation will allow the judiciary to respond to the changing demands of a reformed courts and tribunals system and deliver better services to users. It underpins the government’s agenda to modernise the courts and tribunals, make them fit for the 21st Century while delivering better value for taxpayers.
Justice minister Lucy Frazer said:
This Bill supports our fundamental transformation of the justice system, making courts easier to use, more efficient and fit for the digital age.
By enabling judges to hear cases in different courts and tribunals and giving court staff powers to deal with routine issues, we will make our courts more efficient and effective, while making better use of taxpayer’s money.
Our judiciary are highly valued and we want to make sure judges’ time and expertise is being used where and when it is most needed.
Once enacted, the judiciary will be flexibly deployed across jurisdictions, allowing judges to gain experience of different types of cases, helping with their career progression.
We expect authorised staff could carry out some of the more straightforward judicial functions, which includes tasks like issuing a summons; taking a plea; extending time for service of applications; or considering applications for variations of directions made in private or public law cases.
This is the first step in legislation that will shift justice from slow, paper-based systems to streamlined, efficient digital services.
The Government has invested £1 billion in reforming and modernising courts, which has already delivered:
- A new in-court system which records the results of cases digitally and instantly.
- A fully paperless system in conjunction with Transport for London - which means thousands of cases involving fare evasion are dealt with more swiftly and effectively.
- A digital programme which will allow defendants, victims, witnesses and professional users to share legal documents and cases online.
In the civil courts people can now:
- Make a small money claim online – with over 3,000 claims issued in the first month, cases moving through more quickly, and user satisfaction over 80% during the pre-launch pilot.
- Apply for a divorce online - which has cut errors in application forms from 40% to less than 1%, saving people time and trouble during a traumatic time.
- Apply for probate online - which has also cut errors, speeds up the process, and has a satisfaction rate of more than 90%.