HM Courts and Tribunals Service engagement groups

Professional and public user groups working with HMCTS on aspects of the reform programme, including collaboration on new development proposals.

We are modernising our courts and tribunals system to make it more straightforward, accessible and efficient for all. It’s an ambitious £1bn programme designed to improve the system for both those who use it and for those working within it.

We host a number of engagement forums to ensure we’re collaborating with professional and public user groups on proposals and developments within the reform programme, to better understand their needs. This work will help shape the future landscape of the courts and tribunals services to achieve the best possible outcomes for all.

Engagement during COVID-19

During the coronavirus pandemic, we have increased our routine engagement activities with stakeholders. We are engaging actively and early on in processes as we introduce new arrangements in courts and tribunals in response to the crisis.

A number of temporary working groups were established to bring together different stakeholder groups’ representatives, providing input on jurisdictional or thematic issues. This list is an indicative, not exhaustive, summary of those currently operating.

Forum Remit Membership
Magistrates’ court hearings working group
Chair: Chief Magistrate
To support the safe increase of magistrates’ court hearings across the open courts within the HMCTS estate. The group identifies and resolves cross-agency issues that would prevent the increase in effective hearings within magistrates’ courts. Judiciary, Crown Prosecution Service, Ministry of Justice, Police, Home Office, Prisoner Escort & Custody Service, NHS.
COVID-19 Single Justice Procedure group To meet as needed following initial work to agree a mechanism for handling breaches of COVID-19 Regulations. HMCTS, NPCC, ACRO, AG Office, Crown Prosecution Service, National Probation Service.
Criminal Justice System Strategic Command
Chair: HMPPS
To ensure the continued maintenance of the rule of law and public order, and the joint operation of the criminal justice system throughout the pandemic. The group discusses major changes or risks within each organisation, requests for support and any forthcoming decisions likely to impact on other agencies. A number of working groups sit beneath the CJSSC to support a range of specific areas relating to the criminal justice system. *This group is no longer operational. HMCTS, Crown Prosecution Service, HMPPS, the Police, Judiciary, PHE and Wales, NHS England, MoJ and Home Office.
Legal Professional Bodies bi-weekly recovery update Chair: HMCTS To update and engage on recovery plans and activity, bringing together activity into one single view across all jurisdictions, with input from the legal profession to inform and challenge decision-making. HMCTS, Bar Council, Law Society, Support through court, 7br Barristers chambers.

Criminal Justice Engagement Groups

The reform programme is changing the way that criminal cases are dealt with in court. At the same time, other agencies in the criminal justice system – such as the police and prison and probation services – are also changing the ways that they work. Criminal Justice Engagement Groups bring together those agencies so we can coordinate our plans for improvement.

Our criminal justice groups are outlined below.

Forum Remit Membership
Criminal Justice System Integration Board
Chair: Chief Executive Officer, HMCTS
Schedule of meetings: quarterly
Aims to transform the Criminal Justice System by designing and delivering new, unified ways of working between agencies, supported by technology which allows the sharing of information and ensures we do not duplicate effort. It is made up of leaders from across the Criminal Justice System working together to ensure that changes are designed with all users in mind and delivered in a coordinated way. HMCTS, Legal Aid Agency, National Police Chiefs’ Council, Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, Home Office, Crown Prosecution Service, HM Prison and Probation- Service, Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, Judicial Office of England and Wales, Ministry of Justice.
Criminal Justice Working Group
Chair: Deputy Director – Crime Service Owner, Courts and Tribunals Development, HMCTS
Schedule of meetings: monthly
Responsible for implementing the strategic direction of the Criminal Justice System Integration Board. It seeks expert views and active engagement from Criminal Justice partners, for the benefit of users across the Criminal Justice System. HMCTS, Policing and Fire Group - Home Office, Essex Police Force Collaboration Programme, Crown Prosecution Service, National Police Chiefs’ Council, Metropolitan Police Service, Attorney General’s Office, Legal Aid Agency, HM Prison and Probation Service, Judicial Office of England and Wales, Video Enabled Justice Programme - Sussex Police & Crime Commission, Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, Association of Policing and Crime Chief Executives, Justice and Courts Policy Group - Ministry of Justice.
National Digital Practitioners’ Working Group
Chair: Defence Business Product Owner – CJS Common Platform, HMCTS Reform Crime Programme
Schedule of meetings: monthly, in London and online
Champions the strategic delivery of digital defence tools across the Criminal Justice System (CJS) to promote consistency of approach to digital efficiency across the defence community. It ensures the most effective and efficient delivery of digital working. It provides a mechanism for defence practitioners to feedback on products and services, as they are being designed, built and tested prior to live use. The group discusses digital issues and showcases the latest functionality that has been developed for the Common Platform. Representation invited from: HMCTS, Bar Council, Law Society, London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association, Criminal Bar Association, Institute of Barristers’ Clerks, Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, Legal Aid Agency, Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, Legal Aid Practitioner Group, Young Legal Aid Lawyers, Police Digital First Programme, Crown Prosecution Service, HM Prison and Probation Service, Youth Justice Board, Magistrates’ Association. Additional places for 10 defence practitioners to attend in person and 10 to join the online meeting room. Tickets are available on Eventbrite and advertised on the HMCTS blog and twitter accounts.

We undertake regular engagement with legal professional bodies such as the Bar Council, the Law Society and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives at both Chief Executive and policy levels. We also work collaboratively with these bodies to ensure practitioners’ views are considered in the development of proposals and design of reformed services.

Our legal professional engagement groups are outlined below.

Forum Remit Membership
Jurisdictional Professional Engagement Forums
Chairs: Deputy Directors, HMCTS Tribunals Reform.
Schedule of meetings: ad-hoc basis, based on jurisdictional project timetables and key areas of interest for the profession.
These forums are hosted for projects to present engagement activity on specific issues and involve working level legal professionals, to provide them with opportunities for co-design. These forums, split across Civil, Family, Tribunals and Crime jurisdictions, are guided by the Strategic Professional Engagement Group. HMCTS, The Bar Council, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, the Law Society, Citizens Advice, Employment Lawyers Association, Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association, Judicial Office, Mental Health Lawyers Association, Young Barristers Committee, the Law Centres Network, UK Administrative Justice, JUSTICE, Coram Children’s Legal Centre, Family Law Bar Association, Family Business Insight Group, Family Law Committee, Institute of Family Law Arbitrators, Judicial Office, Resolution, STEP, City of London Law Society, Judicial Office. Criminal Bar Association, Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, Freelance Advocacy Services, Judicial Office, London Criminal Court Solicitors Association, One Legal.
Strategic Professional Engagement Group
Chair: Head of Strategic Stakeholder relations
Schedule of meetings: every 6 weeks.
Aims to have a strategic overview of engagement activities as well as planning activity to engage effectively across the programme. This is a steering group comprising HMCTS jurisdictional leads and policy leads from key legal representative organisations. HMCTS, The Bar Council, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, the Law Society.

Public User Engagement Groups

We regularly engage representatives of public users by bringing together HMCTS staff and people who use our services through a range of forums and groups. These focus on victims, witnesses, young people, equality and inclusion, litigants in person and defendants among others.

Our public engagement groups are outlined below.

Forum Remit Membership
Change Victim and Witness Engagement Group
Chair: Deputy Director Customer Change and Innovation, HMCTS.
Schedule of meetings: quarterly.
Provides feedback on the design and development of reformed procedures and practices which have an impact on victims and witnesses. The group helps to ensure that proposals meet the needs of Victims and Witnesses and improves on the current service. It also represents a range of victims and witnesses and ensures the needs of this community are represented in the development of HMCTS. HMCTS, Ministry of Justice, Crown Prosecution Service, National Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Survivors Trust, Witness Service, Brake, Rape Crisis, Women’s Aid, Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, Victims’ Commissioner’s Office, Victim Support, Police and Crime Commissioner South Wales, a Survivor and an academic representative.
Children and Young People Working Group
Chair: Customer Director, HMCTS.
Schedule of meetings: quarterly.
Provides feedback on the design and development of reformed procedures and practices which have an impact on children and young people. The group aims to better understand the journey that children and young people undertake when using our services. It helps to ensure that proposals meet the needs of children and young people, and improves their experience of our services. HMCTS, Ministry of Justice, National Society of Preventing Cruelty to Children, the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers, Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service, Youth Justice Board, Barnardo’s, Waltham Forest, Coram Children’s Legal Centre and an academic representative.
Defendant Voice Engagement
Chair: Customer Director, HMCTS.
Schedule of meetings: quarterly.
Looks at the potential impact that Criminal Court Reform proposals may have an impact on defendants. It helps to understand the insights and ideas of defendants and ensure that their voice is heard within reformed services. HMCTS, Ministry of Justice, HM Prisons and Probation Service, Hibiscus Initiatives, Intermediaries for Justice, Revolving Doors, KeyRing, JUSTICE, Unlock, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Together UK, Prison Reform Trust, Centre for Justice Innovation, User Voice, Rethink, a Forensic Psychologist and Registered Intermediary and an academic representative.
Equalities and Inclusion Engagement Group
Chair: Customer Director, HMCTS.
Schedule of meetings: quarterly.
Captures participants’ insights and ideas to ensure HMCTS integrates equality principles into all reformed services, promoting a service that is inclusive, user focussed, and does not discriminate against the vulnerable or disadvantaged. HMCTS, Good Things Foundation, Royal National Institute of Blind People, Revolving Doors, Citizens Advice, Barnardo’s, AGE UK, Faiths Forum for London, Judicial Representative, Personal Support Units, Maternity Action, Disability Rights UK, Equality and Human Rights Commission, Public Law Project, Mind, Action on Hearing Loss, Fawcett Society, Race Equality Foundation, Rethink and a Registered Intermediary.
Litigants in Person Engagement Group
Chair: co-chaired by Customer Director, HMCTS and a member of the judiciary.
Schedule of meetings: every two months.
Provides feedback on the design and development of reformed procedures and practices that have an impact on Litigants in Person. The group brings a unique perspective to the process, involving those who help Litigants in Persons to navigate the justice system. Judicial Representative, HMCTS, AdviceUK, Personal Support Unit, Law for Life (including Advice Now), Legal Education Foundation, Money Advice Trust, The Litigant in Person Network, the Chartered Institute for Legal Executives, Pro Bono Trust, Coram Children’s Legal Centre, Judicial Office, the Litigants in Person Support Strategy and Access to Justice Foundation.

Media Engagement Groups

The group was originally formed in 2018 to support HMCTS in developing existing staff guidance to promote media access to courts and tribunals.

It convenes to facilitate ongoing engagement between representatives of the media and those with policy and operational responsibilities in media access to courts and tribunals services, hearings and information.

Forum Remit Membership
Media Working Group
Chair: Director of Communications, HMCTS
Schedule of meetings: decided by the group on an ongoing basis.
It convenes to facilitate ongoing engagement between representatives of the media and those with policy and operational responsibilities in media access to courts and tribunals services, hearings and information. HMCTS, Ministry of Justice, Judicial Office, Evening Standard, BBC, ITN, News Media Association, Society of Editors, National Union of Journalists, National Council for Training Journalists, JPI Media, The Guardian, Crime Reporters Association, Newsquest Media Group, Press Association, RADAR.

For further information on any of these groups please contact:

Published 4 October 2018
Last updated 28 September 2021 + show all updates
  1. Added translation

  2. Added translation

  3. Crown Court working group removed as it has now been dissolved.

  4. Information on Media Working Group updated.

  5. COVID-19 engagement groups updated.

  6. New stakeholder group: Engagement during COVID-19.

  7. Added translation

  8. Media working group added.

  9. First published.