The court system in England and Wales is undergoing a period of rapid and unprecedented change. The £1bn court reform programme currently being led by HM Courts and Tribunals Service is the most ambitious in the world. In whole areas of the justice system such as divorce and civil money claims, and certain types of social security and child support tribunal cases, physical and remote hearings will be reserved ‘only for those cases that cannot be otherwise resolved’. The stated ambition of these reforms is to create ‘a courts and tribunal system that is just, proportionate and accessible to everyone’. In delivering these changes HM Courts and Tribunals Service (‘HMCTS’) have pledged to ‘maintain or improve access to justice’.Whether access to justice is ‘maintained or improved’ through reform is both an empirical and a legal question. In order to test, review and, where necessary, improve systems to meet this commitment, a robust strategy for data collection, analysis and sharing must be in place. This report proposes a data strategy which, if adopted by HMCTS would establish England and Wales as a world leader in delivering digital justice.
This report came about after TLEF’s Director of Research and Learning, Dr Natalie Byrom, was invited to act as independent advisor to the HMCTS court reform programme. In this role, Dr Byrom was seconded to HMCTS for a period of three months. During her secondment to HMCTS, Dr Byrom interviewed over 60 experts and stakeholders in the UK and internationally, including senior judges, government staff, academic researchers, lawyers and data and privacy specialists. The executive summary and full report are available below.Digital Justice Executive Summary Digital Justice: HMCTS data strategy and delivering access to justice
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