Today we have introduced the Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill in the House of Lords.
New legislation underpins our agenda to modernise the courts and tribunals, make them fit for the 21st century and deliver better value for taxpayers. We are working alongside the judiciary to deliver these far-reaching reforms, which will make access to justice quicker and easier for all. The Bill will support and enable these vital reforms to the justice system.
We are delivering significant reform in advance of legislation. For example, we have delivered high-quality, new digital services through a number of pilots: the public can now apply for uncontested divorce online, apply for probate online, make pleas online for low level offences (such as traffic offences or evading bus fare), respond to jury summonses, track social security appeals online, and issue and respond to civil money claims. Over 6,000 people have used these pilots and got straightforward, digital access to the courts for the first time.
Today’s Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill contains measures that are essential to enabling the judiciary to respond to the changing demands of a reformed courts and tribunals system and delivering better services to users. Our world-class judiciary are a highly valuable resource and we want to enable them to continue to deploy their time and expertise where and when it is most needed. The Bill will introduce much greater flexibility to the deployment of judges. It will also free up judges’ time to focus on more complex matters by allowing suitably qualified and experienced court and tribunal staff to be authorised to handle uncontroversial, straightforward matters under judicial supervision. The measures in the Bill will also increase the efficiency of the courts and tribunals.
Further court reform legislation will follow, as soon as parliamentary time allows.
I am placing the delegated powers memorandum and the accompanying impact assessments in the Libraries of both Houses.