Guidance

HMCTS reform programme projects explained

We have started a £1bn programme involving over 50 projects to change and improve our court and tribunal services to bring new technology and modern ways of working.

Civil, family and tribunals projects

Civil

Civil Enforcement

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.

Court of Protection

People using the Court of Protection will be able to initiate and manage their cases online.

Possession

The accelerated possession claims process will be made 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.

Family

Adoption

An end-to-end solution for adoption cases.

Divorce

Delivering a transformed divorce 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 online payment of fees.

Family Public Law

This project will transform 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

Private Family Law

Implementing systems and processes to enable private family law litigants to initiate and manage their cases online.

Probate

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

Tribunals

Employment Tribunals

This project will use a combination of the tribunals authorisation and the civil money claims models to develop a service that can change the way it works according to what the user needs. This will include the ability to resolve cases online and by video.

Immigration and Asylum Chamber

Developing the administration of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber’s service so that it can adapt according to different needs of users. It will enable case resolution both online and by video.

Social Security and Child Support

Establishing a new, digital process to improve the experience of appellants, allowing them to submit, track and manage their appeal online. This will include verification checks and an online listing tool.

Specialist Tribunals

The project will establish new ways of working across the tribunals, developed on a tribunal-by-tribunal basis.

Crime projects

The crime area of the reform programme will support digital working throughout the criminal courts; enable all participants in the criminal justice system to work from the same information to reduce duplication of effort; and introduce more consistent working practices. It will also allow us to deal differently with things that don’t need to be in court.

The six projects below will be underpinned by the digital infrastructure known as the Common Platform, a shared system between the police, HMCTS and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and accessible by participants across the criminal justice system.

Case Progression

This project aims to ensure all activities required to achieve an effective trial or sentencing hearing in the magistrates’ and Crown Courts are carried out by the participants to the case in advance and that trial and sentencing hearings can go ahead as planned.

Online Plea and Allocation

This project will make it possible for defendants (initially through their legal representative) to indicate a plea online, before coming to court; and for decisions on allocation to be taken outside the courtroom where that is appropriate.

Court Hearings

This project will ensure that criminal trials and sentencing hearings are enabled by the right technology and physical environment in the courtroom to ensure the smooth running of the hearings on the day, building on the increasing use of technology that we see already in the criminal courts.

Video Remand Hearings (previously Virtual Remand Hearings)

This project will transform the way in which remand decisions are administered for defendants held in police custody. The project aims to improve the systems and processes that underpin video hearings, and enable remand hearings to be done fully by video.

Youth

This project will look specifically at the needs of children and young defendants to ensure that we do not apply adult processes to children, but instead look at each stage of the process and shape a version of it that is appropriate for young people, with the right safeguards and enhancements.

Single Justice Service

This project contains all services delivered by the magistrates’ court which can be considered by a single magistrate. It builds upon the implementation of the Single Justice Procedure (SJP), introduced to process some 850,000 summary non-imprisonable cases per year.

Common Platform

This project will deliver a single shared system between the police, HMCTS and CPS that is accessible by participants across the criminal justice system. The six projects below are all part of the Common Platform digital infrastructure that will underpin crime reform.

  • Charge to Initial Details of the Prosecution Case: Police officers can request pre-charge decisions from prosecutors. Prosecutors review the information submitted by the Police and create the initial details of the prosecution case. Once the Police confirm the defendant has been charged, Defence will be able to self-serve access to the IDPC online.

  • Criminal Courts end-to-end: Covering case management and other capabilities to support cases to and through hearings in the criminal courts. This was initially divided into separate magistrates’ and Crown Court projects, but they have been brought together to deliver a new system into both magistrates’ and Crown Courts replacing current case management systems.

  • Automated Track Case Management: This project is a digital system that underpins The SJS and is supported by the Single Justice Service Centre (SJSC). So far, the service is live for cases prosecuted by TfL. Since 12 April 2018, defendants have been able to plead online if they choose to do so.

  • Make a Plea: Since September 2014 the make a plea site has been live. With national rollout complete in 2017.Over 1,600 pleas for minor motoring offences are being handled online every week and can be processed more quickly and accurately as a result. Between December 2016 to December 2017, 575,866 low level motoring offences were processed through the courts, of which 82,589 used this system.

  • Digital Mark-Up: A court resulting tool for Legal Advisers and Court Associates in the magistrates’ court.

  • Magistrates’ Rota: Around 14,000 magistrates can now access a single, flexible, national system which allows them to access and manage sitting details online 24/ accessible from any smartphone/tablet or computer. This replaces a manual process.

Cross-cutting projects and services projects

Approved Enforcement Agency

Covering the re-procurement of Approved Enforcement Agency contracts, due to expire, including a review of how this service is provided.

Assisted Digital

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.

Birmingham Estates Rationalisation Project

Rationalising the Civil, Family and Tribunals estate in Birmingham to realise long term savings. Delivering a Birmingham hearing estate that is fit for purpose and can withstand future change.

Bulk Scanning and Printing

Supporting the digitisation of services by establishing a bulk scanning service. It will also reduce printing and postage costs by establishing a centralised bulk printing solution.

The Court and Tribunal Design Guide

Defining the principles and standards upon which we will base future building design.

Courts, Tribunals and Regional Tier

Developing a new organisational design for people in courts and tribunals.

Courts and Tribunals Service Centres

Delivering a number of centralised case administration centres in England and Wales by consolidating administrative activity.

Enterprise Performance Framework

Developing a new performance framework to measure performance and allow data to drive future improvement.

Estates Reform Project 1

Reviewing the utilisation of estates and removing surplus capacity.

Estates Reform Project 2

Assessing the potential for further consolidation of the estate as reform is delivered.

Flexible Operating Hours (feasibility study)

Completing a test and evaluation across a series of sites in different locations and jurisdictions to examine the feasibility of flexible, extended operating hours for hearings.

Hammersmith and Camberwell Green Project

Managing the sale of and transfer of work from Hammersmith and Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Courts.

IT Infrastructure – RCJ Wi-Fi and Screens

Implementing Wi-Fi and screens in the Royal Courts of Justice.

IT Infrastructure – Screens

Implementing screens for the judiciary, litigants in person and witnesses’ screens in civil and family courts and tribunals.

IT Infrastructure – Video Hearings Hardware

Providing video conferencing equipment in courts and tribunals to support video hearings.

IT Infrastructure – Wi-Fi

Delivering Wi-Fi in all courts and tribunals. Upgrade of Wi-Fi in crime sites.

Judicial Fees and Expenses Payment System

Improving the payment of fees and expenses to all court judges and tribunal judges and panel members. The project is creating an online system to handle the processing of claims and expenses, which now includes fee-paid members.

HMCTS people and cultural transformation

This project focuses on the skilled and dedicated people who work in HMCTS. It includes five areas:

  • Designing the future of the organisation;
  • developing future job profiles for people;
  • increasing engagement of staff – both in the current programme of change, and more widely;
  • ensuring we have policies and approaches that support recruitment, retention, redundancies and redeployment; and
  • identifying the new skills and capabilities required in the workforce, and helping to deliver them.

Scheduling and Listing

Implementing a scheduling and listing tool and new processes to be used by court listing officers to support their work.

Video Hearings (previously Virtual Hearings)

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.

Other projects

Transforming Compliance and Enforcement Programme

Increasing both the level and the efficiency of the collection of criminal financial impositions through improved business processes and IT systems. This will consolidate administrative activity through a reduced number of sites and headcount. The improved IT systems will also increase the levels of collection through improved verification and data segmentation functionality.

The Transforming Compliance and Enforcement Programme was suspended in September 2018. 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 October 2018 + show all updates
  1. TCEP project information updated.
  2. Added translation
  3. First published.