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Court and Tribunal Reform

Volume 560: debated on Tuesday 26 March 2013

I have previously set out my plans for reform of rehabilitation services and youth custody, and will shortly be setting out proposals for further reforms to legal aid. I am today announcing that I have asked my Department to explore proposals for the reform of the resourcing and administration of our courts and tribunals.

The courts and tribunals are at the centre of our justice system, relied on by the public to enforce their rights and uphold the rule of law. As in other areas, we need to look at the way we deliver our services to provide a more efficient service that delivers access to justice quickly and effectively, while delivering value for money for the taxpayer. At the same time, we must preserve the independence of the judiciary which lies at the heart of our constitutional arrangements.

Our courts and judiciary command great respect around the world and we should be proud of their international reputation and the contribution they already make to our economy. This country is a major centre for legal services and dispute resolution. I want to explore how we can further enhance the position of the UK at the centre of the international legal market and the revenue it can generate.

I also want to ensure that those who litigate in our courts pay their fair share, and that it is possible to raise the revenue and investment necessary to modernise the infrastructure and deliver a better and more flexible service to court users.

I have therefore asked my Department to consider appropriate vehicles to achieve these aims, and the organisational structures that might best support this. I am clear that any new model must support the administration of justice as a core pillar of our constitution and its effective delivery will remain an important responsibility of the state.

I have discussed these ideas in outline with the Lord Chief Justice and the Senior President of Tribunals and will continue to work closely with the judiciary as to the detail of these reforms, as well as work with the relevant Parliamentary Committees.