Have the UK's courts been modernised? | Hudson McKenzie

Have the UK’s courts been modernised?

It’s been two years since the UK government’s initiative to improve the courts in respect of an ongoing digital transition – so how effective has this been in its implementation?

The Digital Director for the HM Courts & Tribunals Service gave a speech in 2016 regarding the ‘Modernisation of justice through technology and innovation’ in which was influenced by the Justice Secretary’s urge for the courts and tribunals to be urgently reformed.

Several pointers were outlined during the speech as to how the HM Courts & Tribunals services shall be reformed and changed. For instance, one of the dominant changes mentioned is that divorces were to be agreed and progressed online in favour of online mediation overall, rather than within a physical courtroom.

The motivations behind the reform were specifically regarding the necessity of a more ‘streamlined process’ as well the reduction of costs for everyone generally. However, since the speech in 2016, how far has this initiative of modernisation followed through?

This year, there were several headlines regarding the ongoing modernisation of the UK’s courts which seemed less than promising, despite the positive ambition of the Digital Director in his initial speech.

For example, it was stated that approximately 6,500 jobs would be lost due to the ongoing modernization of the courts, causing rife within the work and employment sector generally. Secondly, it was also reported that despite a £1.2 Billion Pound Modernization pf the UK courts, this project was in fact ‘falling behind ambitions’, as the deliverance of the modernisation process was becoming more challenging than expected.

Therefore, at present, the HM Courts and Tribunal service are still at an early stage regarding whether they can be determined as completely modernising or not. However the challenges faced through this process are only to be expected, due to the Courts having to transition numerous historical traditions over to a digital platform – which would raise numerous concerns within itself.

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