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MoJ releases video on online court system

YouTube video explains the MoJ's plans

At the beginning of March, I was invited to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) for a workshop explaining more about the online divorce project from the Court Service (HMCTS). I joined representatives from the Law Society, Resolution and the Bar.

We were introduced to the project by a preview of a video about the proposed online reform, part of a £1 billion investment which will supposedly deliver savings of £250m in annual running costs. The video covering various areas of law, mentions that in the future we may see video hearings. The government is exploring extending court opening hours. More case officers for judges are to be employed. However the video made no mention of how the shortage of judges might be tackled.

The video, entiled Justice Matters, that details how the HMCTS change programme will be implemented has just been released. It can be viewed here.

It seems that family modernisation is leading the way, being one of a small number of similar digital projects involving, for example, probate and tribunals. The Government's "agile methodology" approach to projects means that new processes are built bit by bit, starting with the petition in this case.

'Apply for a Divorce' is ultimately intended to be a simple online service for the 98% of divorces that are uncontested and will "vastly improve the experience".

No changes are to be made to primary legislation underlying these processes. A new Practice Direction, 36D, appeared on 25 January, enabling the pilot scheme in the East Midlands Divorce Centre. This will be followed by others. The next, for example, will cover online submission.

The video can be viewed here.

Tony Roe