Withhold closing courts until reforms enacted says CILEx

Withhold closing courts until reforms enacted says CILEx

29 March 2018

Millicent GrantThe Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) has expressed its concerns over the Government’s proposed future strategy for HM Courts & Tribunals Service and its approach to court and tribunal reform.   
 
The Government has proposed that courts and tribunals will be assessed using a capacity analysis that will take into account assumptions on the impact of modernisation of legal services which the Government believe will reduce the reliance on traditional court and tribunal centres. 
 
CILEx President Millicent Grant FCILEx said: “I’m worried that the Government is putting the cart before the horse, by justifying yet further court closures with the promise of digital services to fill the void that don’t exist yet. 
 
“CILEx and I recognise the investment to modernise our courts as a once in a generation opportunity. We want it to enable the administration of justice, improve access to justice, and maintain high quality justice outcomes. For this to happen it must be informed by professionals and courts users, be evidence-based, and ensure any replacements for discontinued services are fully in place ahead of time to avoid disruption.
 
“What the consequences of the Court Reform Programme will be are not yet fully understood, and they must be if we are to make meaningful decisions about the future direction of the court estate. The Government should therefore withhold from closing further courts until the consequences of its reform programme have been adequately evaluated. I am deeply concerned that further premature closures will deteriorate or disrupt the public’s ability to access justice.”
 
In its consultation response, CILEx also emphasised the need for effective engagement with court users and practitioners following feedback from the CILEx Court Users specialist reference group that they had not been made aware of the possible impact of the reform programme’s different projects.

Click here to read CILEx's response to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation