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HMCTS faces urgent prioritisation of court backlogs: Law Society urges timely action

HMCTS faces urgent prioritisation of court backlogs: Law Society urges timely action


In response to the escalating court backlogs, HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has adjusted its reform programmes

Law Society of England and Wales President Nick Emmerson commended HMCTS for prioritising urgent issues but underscored the critical need for swift resolution.

Nick Emmerson emphasised the impact of years of budget cuts on the justice system, highlighting the importance of proper investment. He stated that the delays in the court service are affecting justice for victims, witnesses, and defendants and must be urgently addressed.

Specifically, Nick Emmerson supported the decision to pause further phases of the Common Platform project in criminal courts. He noted that implementing major IT changes while dealing with an unprecedented backlog would be challenging. The Common Platform project involves training judges and lawyers on an updated system, which could divert resources from addressing the backlog.

While acknowledging the extended timeline for reform programs in civil, family, and tribunals until March 2025, Nick Emmerson emphasised the necessity of avoiding costly errors and rework in the long run. He urged a cautious approach to development, emphasising the importance of not rushing the process.

Expressing disappointment at the delays in delivering the possession project in the civil jurisdiction, Nick Emmerson acknowledged the challenges posed by the Renters Reform Bill, suggesting that it makes sense to avoid digitising existing processes when significant changes are on the horizon.

Nick Emmerson also called for clarification regarding the government's previous indication to defer the abolition of no-fault eviction until after the digitisation of the existing court process. He welcomed reconsideration of this approach in light of the current circumstances.

In conclusion, Nick Emmerson stressed the importance of HMCTS maintaining a robust workforce with the necessary knowledge and expertise to successfully address court backlogs and implement effective court reforms. The urgency of the situation demands a strategic and comprehensive approach to ensure timely justice for all parties involved.