Guidance

The HMCTS reform programme

How to engage with our reform programme, get involved in projects and stay updated on progress.

Our programme

We are working on an ambitious programme of court reform, which aims to bring new technology and modern ways of working to the way justice is administered.

In collaboration with the senior judiciary and the Ministry of Justice, we are investing £1bn to reform our courts and tribunals system.

Our systems and processes have not kept pace with the world around us. We know we can make justice less confusing, easier to navigate and better at responding to the needs of the public. We want every user to feel they have been treated swiftly, fairly and with respect.

We are building a modern system for administering justice which will benefit everyone who uses it. By designing systems around the public who need and use our services, we can create a more effective system for them and generate efficiencies for the taxpayer.

Background to reform

The reform programme was launched in September 2016 in a joint statement from The Lord Chancellor, Lord Chief Justice, and the Senior President of Tribunals on their shared vision for the future of HMCTS. A subsequent consultation explained what we were doing to achieve reform of the justice system, and invited the public and interested stakeholders to give their views on certain specific measures.

Progress

Our reform programme now comprises more than 50 distinct projects, working across all jurisdictions - in criminal, civil, family and tribunals.

During the first phase of the reforms, we focused on testing the basics behind the plans:

  • testing early digital services (versions of the divorce, probate and online plea services, for instance)

  • started to create national teams to deliver more consistent service (such as call handling)

  • put in infrastructure (including more Wi-Fi)

  • started less visible, but important work to prepare for the next phase (procurement work, location analysis, leases for buildings, demand modelling, design work and so on)

In the current second phase, we are starting to make these first services available to more people:

  • starting work on their equivalents in other parts of the system (public family law, for example)

  • building ‘enabling’ services (such as video connections and technology to support listing)

  • standing up more national ways of working that give the public more responsive and consistent service (such as case tracking and answers to questions about what will happen next)

We have already launched new online services, including:

Who we’re working with

HMCTS reports to the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Chief Justice and the Senior President of Tribunals through an independently chaired Board. The way we operate is set out in our framework document.

Judges are part of the governance of HMCTS. They form part of the reform programme decision-making structure and work with us on many individual projects.

We regularly engage with legal professional bodies such as the Bar Council, the Law Society and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives(CILEX). These bodies are also working collaboratively with us to ensure practitioners’ views are considered in the development of proposals and design of reformed services.

We have also been engaging with a range of other stakeholders, including professional and public user groups, who work with us on aspects of the reform programme as well as collaborating on new development proposals.

We effectively engage with partner organisations within the justice system and other government departments, local authorities and third sector organisations. We frequently work closely with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), the Legal Aid Agency (LAA), the Youth Justice Board (YJB), the criminal defence community, and many others.

Newsletters

We publish monthly newsletters about our reform progress, together with quarterly editions of our HMCTS reform update.

Reform events

Our events page includes a range of opportunities for us to gather views and feedback from those who use the justice system and for those working within it.

Events include an international conference on online courts, live online events and showcase opportunities for users to get hands-on with some of our new and developing services.

Inside HMCTS blog

Our Inside HMCTS blog encourages two-way engagement on our reform progress, providing regular updates on our projects and new online services.

Contact us

As our reform programme gathers pace, we want to continue the conversation with you. You can find out the latest and tell us what you think in any of the following ways:

Published 9 November 2018