Bar Council Annual Report 2016-17

Aim 1 - Court reform

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Court reform

The Government’s consultation, Transforming our Justice System, published in September 2016, outlined an ambitious programme of court reform, including plans for more civil and criminal proceedings to take place online, and for increased use of telephone and video hearings.

The Bar Council engaged critically and constructively with the reform programme – largely through Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) Professional Engagement Groups (PEGs) - and has been clear that its participation in HMCTS’ strategy does not imply endorsement of the programme overall or of any specific proposal. The Bar Council’s work with the PEGs has provided a continuing opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns about a range of major policy initiatives as well as to monitor and influence this important and wide-ranging agenda.

Bar Council representatives, including the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Bar and the Chairs of the Legal Services Committee and Young Barristers’ Committee, have also attended HMCTS workshops and helped to find research participants to test systems such as the forthcoming online divorce and lower-value civil money claims services.

The Bar Council briefed parliamentarians on the Prisons and Courts Bill and the implications of online guilty pleas, as well as proposed amendments which were debated during the Commons committee stage of the Bill.

“It is our view that the physical courtroom should always be the default forum for criminal litigation. The consequences of any diminution in parties’ ability to follow proceedings or understand each other are serious.” 

- Bar Council Second Reading briefing on the Prisons and Courts Bill

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Luke Robins-Grace
Senior Communications Adviser 
0207 630 4689