What the reform programme means in the South West by HM Courts & Tribunals Service

hmcts-logo_1 Practitioners in Devon and Somerset, indeed across England and Wales, will be aware of HMCTS’s ambitious £1bn programme of court reform. Some have been involved in consultations, developing and testing new services and products; for others their work has already been impacted as new technology and modern ways of working are introduced.

 

Launched in September 2016, the programme is now almost at its half-way stage. We’ve already seen the roll out of several online services covering divorce, probate, civil money claims and social security appeals which have been used by well over 250,000 people. Two new services – immigration and asylum, and public family law – are currently being publicly tested.

 

Many in the region have been involved in the development of reform services in some capacity. Truro Combined Court, for example, is part of the national pilot in 12 family courts for the Citizens Advice family court domestic abuse support service, which launched in August 2019.

 

Our south western buildings

 

Some of your members, especially those who frequently work at Taunton Crown Court and Torquay & Newton Abbot County Court, may already be benefitting from the professional users’ court access scheme. This scheme is being rolled out in stages, across the region and nationwide. It allows legal professionals to avoid delays when being processed by security staff. Although registration for the national scheme has begun with the Bar Council, HMCTS is working with other legal associations who wish to participate and open the scheme for their members.

 

As part of our estate review process, which aims to improve the physical environment for all court users, Exeter Magistrates’ Court is closing and the work is moving to the Combined Court, half a mile away. To support this move, three new hearing rooms will be built, as well as increased cell capacity, witness and consultation facilities and a new cafe.

 

The move represents a significant investment for HMCTS and all court users in Exeter will benefit from hearings taking place in a modern building which better suits their needs.

 

Keeping in touch

 

Stay up-to-date with the reform programme by signing up to receive HMCTS email alerts and monthly newsletters. You can register your interest in a particular jurisdiction to keep abreast of events, like the recent webinar on Family Public Law and Adoption, and the latest news, such as the recent launch of a new digital form for separated parents to apply to see their children.

 

You can also follow HMCTS on any of our social channels linked below.

 

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