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The UK faces a surge in court delays, prompting urgent calls for digital integration and AI utilisation

The UK faces a surge in court delays, prompting urgent calls for digital integration and AI utilisation


Waiting times have surged by a staggering 40% from 2019 to 2023, with businesses now enduring an average wait of nearly 20 months for cases to be heard in Civil Courts

In recent years, the UK courts system has encountered a daunting challenge: mounting delays that significantly impede the timely resolution of legal disputes,. This surge, extending the waiting period by seven weeks compared to the previous year, underscores the pressing need for enhanced efficiency and modernisation within the legal system.

Recognising the urgency of the situation, His Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has embarked on a transformative journey toward digital integration. Through initiatives aimed at leveraging technology to streamline processes, HMCTS seeks to alleviate the burden of delays and enhance access to justice. Key initiatives include the automation of case management, widespread adoption of video conferencing, and the introduction of online filing systems, empowering parties to submit applications and upload documents remotely. Additionally, HMCTS has pioneered a video hearings service, complete with virtual consultation rooms and user-friendly guidance, marking a significant step toward modernising court proceedings.

Kriti Sharma, Chief Product Officer for Legal Technology at Thomson Reuters, emphasises the critical role of AI in augmenting these efforts. By harnessing the power of AI-driven tools for digital evidence management and task optimisation, legal practitioners can expedite document review and drafting processes, thereby accelerating legal proceedings and reducing backlog.

Across the Atlantic, similar concerns over delays resonate within the US courts system. Thomson Reuters' State of the US Courts Report for 2024 reveals a marked increase in case delays, prompting a concerted effort to embrace digital solutions. Virtual courts, digital evidence management systems, and other technological innovations are gaining traction among legal professionals as indispensable tools for mitigating delays and enhancing justice delivery.

The evolving sentiment toward digital solutions reflects a growing acknowledgment of their efficacy in addressing systemic challenges and improving overall efficiency. As the legal landscape continues to evolve, sustained investment in digital infrastructure remains imperative to ensure equitable access to justice and streamline court proceedings, both domestically and internationally. By harnessing the power of digital tools and AI, stakeholders can navigate the complexities of the legal landscape with greater agility and effectiveness, ultimately fostering a more accessible, efficient, and equitable judicial system for all.

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