Digital court reform programme: A step forward?


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What’s the digital court reform programme?

The digital court reform programme is designed to transform the UK’s justice system and how it operates. In a modern, digital world, it’s time for the court system to follow suit. The programme is a government initiative to modernise and improve the efficiency of court processes by embracing digital technology. It aims to speed up court processes, reduce delays, and cut costs by reducing staff and closing courts. Despite claims that it’ll improve access to justice, it’s clear that the main aim is to save money.

What are the key features of the programme?

The programme involves several changes to the traditional court system::

  • Online services – such as submitting documents and tracking the progress of cases, making access to the system easier.
  • Virtual hearings – enabling remote hearings, reducing the need for physical court attendance. This will save time and money for all parties involved.
  • Digital case management – this will make it easier for judges, lawyers, and court officials to access case files and manage cases more efficiently.
  • Electronic evidence – allows for the presentation of electronic evidence in court, which would streamline the court process and reduce the need for physical copies of documents.

Are there any issues with the programme?

The implementation of the programme has been criticised in various reports. The main concerns are that it’s now three years delayed, over budget and estimated to save less than originally forecasted. However, it’s a huge reform of the whole court system, moving it from a traditional to a digital approach and this transition is unlikely to be as smooth as the government would’ve hoped. 

A step forward?

The digital court reform programme will be successful if it delivers greater court efficiency without harming access to justice and effective participation. Achieving these efficiencies of the reform relies on the behavioural change of the users involved in the reform programme, with judges, who are used to the traditional system, likely being the hardest to get to adapt to this new digital one.


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