MPs to examine progress and effects of government court modernisation programme

The government’s £1 billion courts modernisation project will be probed again by MPs, it was announced yesterday.

The justice committee of the House of Commons will conduct an inquiry into the reform programme, examining the implications for access to justice. Two aspects of the project will be looked at in particular: the increased use of digital and video technology and the closures of courts and tribunal hearing centres.

The new inquiry follows last year’s report in which MPs said they had “little confidence” that the Transforming Courts and Tribunals programme could be successfully delivered on budget and by its 2022 deadline. The committee also said that HM Courts and Tribunal Services (HMCTs) had not adequately considered impact on access to, and the fairness of, the justice system with its plans.

Conservative MP Bob Neill, who chairs the new committee, said: “There is no doubt that the HMCTS reforms represent a significant change in the delivery of justice across all areas of the system.

“While we welcome the intention of modernising the courts and tribunals, the public accounts committee has already raised concerns about the deliverability of the reforms. We are worried about the access to justice implications and will take this opportunity to put those at the heart of our inquiry.”

The committee will also consider whether the Ministry of Justice and HMCTS have consulted effectively on the reforms with judges, lawyers and the advice sector.

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