HMCTS announces new service

A recent blog post from HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has provided further information about the new service that HMCTS is developing to modernise and improve how members of the public, the media and legal professionals find court and tribunal hearing lists, as part of its commitment to open justice.

The intention is that the new service will make it easier to find hearing lists with the aim being that they will be available on GOV.UK in one place and in a standardised format.

However, HMCTS will be moving courts and tribunals to this new service in phases, which means the number of hearing lists on the service will build over time.

HMCTS has been working with focus groups representing the media, legal professionals and the Litigants in Person Engagement Group to ensure it understands the needs of different court users. Their needs will inform the practical design of the new service. For example, there will be predictive search boxes to help members of the public find information quickly. Legal professionals and the media can become verified users and subscribe to receive specific hearing lists by email, removing the need to contact courts or tribunals to be added to multiple distribution lists.

Whilst HMCTS is committed to being more open and transparent, there will still be cases where details are limited. Most family cases are still private closed proceedings to protect the identity of the parties and any children involved so it is expected that initials will continue to be used when listing such cases.

Testing of the service has been ongoing throughout early 2022 and it is proposed that the service should be available to be used by a small number of courts from Spring 2022. The number of courts and tribunals available on the service will then be expanded throughout the year. As courts adopt the service, they will contact subscribers about it.

Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Ipswich.

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