First steps made for court modernisation

The House of Lords has introduced legislation to modernise courts and tribunals across the country.

With an aim to increase efficiency, the Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill sets out to allow greater flexibility when it comes to assigning the right judge to the right case.

It will also enable routine matters to be dealt with by appropriately trained and experienced court and tribunal staff, with the intention that this will free up judges’ time. This will have to be authorized by the judiciary and be done under judicial supervision.

Allowing judges to build experience across a wider range of cases, the legislation will see the judiciary deployed across jurisdictions on a flexible basis.

The Ministry of Justice and HM Courts & Tribunals Service state that they expect authorized staff to carry out straightforward judicial functions. This could include taking a plea or issuing a summons for example.

The bodies state that this marks the first step in shifting the system to a more efficient, digital service.

Justice minister Lucy Frazer said:

“This Bill supports our fundamental transformation of the justice system, making courts easier to use, more efficient and fit for the digital age.

“By enabling judges to hear cases in different courts and tribunals and giving court staff powers to deal with routine issues, we will make our courts more efficient and effective, while making better use of taxpayer’s money.

“Our judiciary are highly valued and we want to make sure judges’ time and expertise is being used where and when it is most needed.”

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