Guidance

HMCTS reform programme projects explained

A £1bn programme involving over 50 projects to improve our court and tribunal services, bringing new technology and modern ways of working.

Crime projects

The crime area of the reform programme will support digital working throughout the criminal courts:

  • enabling all participants in the criminal justice system to work from the same information to reduce duplication of effort
  • introducing more consistent working practices
  • allowing us to deal differently with things that don’t need to be in court.

The six projects highlighted will be underpinned by the Common Platform. This is a digital infrastructure system shared between the police, HMCTS and the Crown Prosecution Service and accessible by participants across the criminal justice system.

Project and timescales Description Stakeholders involved
Single justice service, February 2017 to November 2020 Providing all the services needed by the magistrates’ court to administer the Single Justice Procedure including a new online digital case management system which equates to 850,000 cases each year Influencers and legal sector experts, criminal justice partners, other government departments, parliament, public court users
Video remand hearings, July 2017 to October 2020 Transforming the way in which hearings for defendants held in custody could be administered in the future Influencers and legal sector experts, criminal justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, parliament, public court users
Court hearings, July 2017 to September 2020 Ensuring that criminal trials and sentencing hearings are enabled by the right technology and physical environment in the courtroom to ensure the smooth running of hearings on the day, building on the increasing use of technology that we see already in the criminal courts. The project will also deliver quicker and more reliable sharing of results from hearings to all parties Influencers and legal sector experts, criminal justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, parliament, public court users
Common platform, July2017 to March 2021 The Common Platform forms the critical digital delivery components of the Crime Programme. The Common Platform is intended to deliver a unified way of digital working for HMCTS and CPS staff and the wider participants in the criminal case management process. Through digital working, we will improve the experience for court users and those working within the Criminal Justice System, whilst reducing cost and maintaining transparency. Common Platform core digital delivery includes HMCTS case handling, hearing and resulting minimal viable product; HMCTS case handling optimisation (includes case progression, and online plea and allocation); CPS and shared case handling. Youth, Case Progression and Online Plea and Allocation have all been incorporated into future Common Platform work Influencers and legal sector experts, justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, parliament, public court users and suppliers

Civil, family and tribunals projects

We are developing a range of digital services to support the resolution of civil, family and tribunals cases fairly and speedily, and give new routes to justice which will in time comprise the ‘online court’.

In the civil jurisdiction, existing processes can be protracted, inefficient and costly. We are creating a system that enables people to manage and resolve a dispute fairly and speedily. This will involve more mediation and fewer hearings. It will involve simpler processes and online routes for those using seeking civil justice and provide good quality digital systems to replace inefficient, paper-based systems.

The practice and administration of family justice has changed in the last five years. Our reforms will make the system easier to understand and navigate, more efficient and better at meeting the needs of the people who use it. We’ll introduce new technology for family courts, improve the court estate, and enhance case officer/legal adviser functions to make the best use of judges.

In our tribunals, we’ll create simpler processes and online routes, allowing people to manage and resolve disputes fairly and speedily. This will include new tools to support online dispute resolution and ‘continuous online hearings’, with helpful ways for judges to communicate directly with parties and further development of the roles of case officers to support the judiciary.

Tranche Project and timescales Description Stakeholders involved
1 Divorce online, April 2016 to October 2019 Delivering a transformed service for people who want to end their marriage or civil partnership. This project will also reduce the HMCTS resource required to administer those cases. A digital service for applications for divorce, nullity or judicial separation of marriage or civil partnerships, and the online payment of fees Influencers and legal sector experts, justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, parliament, public court users and suppliers
  Probate online, April 2016 to October 2019 Implementing a streamlined, digital system to speed up and simplify the process for users who apply for a grant of probate in non-contentious cases Influencers and legal sector experts, justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, parliament, public court users and suppliers
  Social Security and Child Support (SSCS), April 2016 to November 2019 Establishing a new, digital process allowing appellants to submit, track and manage their appeal online. This will include verification checks and an online listing tool Influencers and legal sector experts, justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, parliament and public court users
  Civil money claims, April 2016 to November 2019 Creating a new online process for the management of relatively simple and lower value civil claims. The project will also provide the capability for digital working for civil claims. Influencers and legal sector experts, justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, parliament and public court users
2 Royal Courts of Justice and Upper Tribunals, October 2016 to July 2020 Delivering a digital case management system for the civil jurisdictions of the High Court and Court of Appeal, Upper Tribunal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal, Regional Business and Property Courts and District Registries Influencers and legal sector experts, justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, parliament, public court users and suppliers
  Family public law and adoption, September 2017 to August 2020 Transforming our public family law function to enable users, including local authorities, to start and manage cases online for all public family law and adoption cases Influencers and legal sector experts, justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, parliament and public court users
  Immigration and Asylum Chamber, December 2017 to September 2020 Developing the service so that it can adapt according to different needs of users. It will enable case resolution both online and by video Influencers and legal sector experts, justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, parliament and public court users
  Civil enforcement and possession, January 2018 to July 2021 Reviewing the structure of civil enforcement to deliver better information and increase the likelihood of successful enforcement. This includes increased guidance, a simplified process, and a digital system to increase efficiencies. Making the accelerated possession claims process digital. As an interim step, automation of administrative processes will be implemented to make processes more efficient and save money. Considerations are being given to ways of standardising the administration of possession cases Influencers and legal sector experts, justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, parliament and public court users
3 Tribunal Project, November 2019 to November 2021 Establishing new ways of working across the tribunals, developed on a tribunal-by-tribunal basis. (Employment Tribunals – has been subsumed within the overall Tribunal project) To be confirmed once project starts
  Family private law, September 2020 to March 2022 Implementing systems and processes to enable private family law litigants to initiate and manage their cases online To be confirmed once project starts

Cross-cutting projects and services projects

This area of the reform programme will improve systems and processes across jurisdictions, supporting modern ways of working.

Project and timescales Description Stakeholders involved
Video hearings (previously virtual hearings), throughout the entirety of reform Implementing hearings in a digital environment outside traditional courts or tribunals. Developing the capacity to provide ‘on the day management’ of hearings, where the hearing attendees can be welcomed and communicated with, and can have ‘side conversations’ with each other. An improved telephone conferencing system will be delivered as part of the project Influencers and legal sector experts, justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, parliament and public court users and suppliers
Scheduling and listing, May 2017 to October 2021 Implementing a scheduling and listing tool and new processes to be used by court listing officers to support their work Justice partners, legal professional, other government departments
Flexible operating hours (feasibility study), Autumn 2019 to Summer 2020 Completing a test and evaluation across two sites in different locations and jurisdictions to examine the feasibility of flexible, extended operating hours for hearings, including an independent evaluation of the pilots Justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments
Assisted digital, September 2017 to March 2022 Providing support to members of the public (including litigants in person) who have limited digital capability or who are unable to access resources and information digitally – including web-chat, telephone and face to face support Justice partners, other government departments, public court users
Bulk scanning and printing, September 2016 to December 2019 Developing a service which will remove our reliance on paper and provide greater flexibility on how operational activities are undertaken. Designing systems and processes to support a national printing and scanning capability, for users who continue to use paper channels Justice partners, legal professionals, public court users
Courts, tribunals and regional tier, August 2017 to March 2023 Developing a new organisational design for the staff in courts and tribunals Influencers and legal sector experts, justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, public court users and suppliers
Courts and tribunals service centres (CTSCs), April 2017 to March 2023 Delivering a number of centralised case administration centres for HMCTS in England and Wales by consolidating administrative activity Influencers and legal sector experts, justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, public court users and suppliers
Estates reform project 1 (ERP1), September 2015 to October 2019 Implementing the decisions made by ministers under that project and removing surplus capacity Justice partners
Estates reform project 2 (ERP2), August 2016 to March 2027 Continually assessing the potential for further consolidation of the estate as reform is delivered Influencers and legal sector experts, justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, parliament, public court users and suppliers
Facilities management re-procurement project, July 2016 to May 2020 To support the re-procurement and roll out of new facilities management and security contracts across the HMCTS estate Influencers and legal sector experts, justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, parliament, public court users and suppliers
IT infrastructure – wifi, July 2016 to November 2020 Delivering wifi in all courts and tribunals (already installed wifi in 99% of courts and tribunals). Upgrade of HMCTS wifi in crime sites Justice partners and suppliers
IT infrastructure – video hearings (VH) hardware, June 2017 to November 2021 Providing video conferencing equipment in courts and tribunals to support video hearings Influencers and legal sector experts, justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, parliament and public court users and suppliers
IT Infrastructure – Screens (litigant in person and witnesses and non-salaried judicial office holders), July 2018 to December 2019 Wifi will be completed to all areas in Spring 2019, whilst Screens is still being defined and now forecasted to be complete in the Autumn Public court users, legal professionals, justice partners, influencers and legal sector experts, suppliers and other government departments
HMCTS people and cultural transformation, November 2016 to December 2022 Focusing on the skilled and dedicated people who work in HMCTS, it includes five areas: designing the future of HMCTS organisation, developing future job profiles for HMCTS staff, ensuring we have policies and approaches that support recruitment, retention, redundancies and redeployment, increasing engagement of staff – both in the current programme of change, and more widely, identifying the new skills and capabilities required in the HMCTS workforce, and helping to deliver them Influencers and legal sector experts, justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, parliament and suppliers
Data and management information, throughout entirety of reform programme Consciously and deliberately planning the data and management information that we want our new systems to provide, and which will be the foundation of further improvement – allowing us to see much more readily where there are blockages or difficulties, and whether the things we are doing to address them are working Influencers and legal sector experts, justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, parliament and suppliers.
Approved Enforcement Agency (AEA), August 2016 to April 2020 Covering the re-procurement of Approved Enforcement Agency (AEA) contracts, due to expire, including a review of how this service is provided Justice partners, legal professionals, parliament and suppliers
Enterprise performance framework (EPF), July 2017 to January 2020 Developing a new performance framework to measure the performance of HMCTS and allow data to drive future improvement Justice partners

Completed or suspended projects

Project and timescales Description Stakeholders involved
Birmingham estates rationalisation project (BERP), July 2014 to April 2018 Rationalising the HMCTS Civil, Family and Tribunals (CFT) estate in Birmingham to realise long term savings. Delivering a Birmingham CFT hearing estate that is fit for purpose and can withstand future change Public court users, legal professionals, justice partners and suppliers
The court and tribunal design guide, June 2016 to March 2019 Defining the principles and standards upon which HMCTS will base future building design. Published in spring 2019 Influencers and legal sector experts, justice partners, legal professionals, other government departments, parliament, public court users and suppliers
Judicial fees and expenses payment system (JFEPS), December 2015 to May 2018 Improving the payment of fees and expenses to all court judges and tribunal judges and panel members. The project created an online system to handle the processing of claims and expenses, which now includes fee-paid members Justice partners, suppliers
Digital mark-up, October 2014 to March 2018 A court resulting tool for legal advisers and court associates in the magistrates’ court, for all criminal cases. The service is a digital process to record and transmit the results of the judicial decision makers in magistrates’ courts to the current case management system (Libra). It is an interim system, and will in due course be replaced by the ‘full’ Common Platform, which will replace Libra rather than integrating with it, and so be easier to use Justice partners and suppliers
Court of Protection, suspended Intended to enable people using the Court of Protection to initiate and manage their cases online  
Transforming compliance and enforcement, suspended Enforcing court orders and collecting historic criminal debt will continue unchanged after further upgrades to the service, including systems and technology, were put on hold  
Published 20 June 2018
Last updated 4 June 2019 + show all updates
  1. Content revised June 2019
  2. Added translation
  3. Royal Courts of Justice and Upper Tribunal civil project added.
  4. TCEP project information updated.
  5. Added translation
  6. First published.