08th June 2016
Could pop-up courts contribute to a more flexible justice system?
A more flexible justice system could be developed with easily transportable judicial stage sets, remote video screens and online access according to a leading legal Thinktank.
Despite austerity causing court closures across the country, Justice – a human rights organisation – has stated that this draw back has provided an opportunity for a more digital approach. These measures have included cutting legal aid in civil and family courts which has reinforced the need for user-friendly procedures which do not necessarily mean being over reliant on expensive legal experts.
The Ministry of Justice are set to invest over £700m in updating working procedures and replacing the paper work that is affiliated with court cases. It states that technology “now drives the everyday lives of individuals and businesses. It is time for this to be reflected in our courts and tribunals”.
Pop-up courts could therefore be established in various public places including local council buildings, community centres, libraries, schools and universities. These will be staffed with travelling judges or tribunals who will set up in convenient locations outside traditional courts.
Remote screens being used to provide evidence are becoming more common according to the report, with video links in prisons, police stations and for pre-recording a victims’ testimony to rape cases.
The director of Justice, Andrea Coomber, said: “We have reached a critical juncture in the history of the justice system in England and Wales. A spirit of reform – demonstrated by government’s commitment of £738m for the modernisation and full digitisation of the courts, alongside initiatives by the senior judiciary and HMCTS – makes this period the greatest opportunity in a generation to rethink how we deliver justice through the courts and tribunals.
“Much is at stake, but if undertaken in a creative and careful way, the reconfiguration of the court and tribunal estate could both bring our system into the technological age and put the needs of ordinary users at its heart.”
One of our Criminal Solicitors, Andrew Brumhill, echoed Andrea Coomber’s enthusiasm by saying: “It has to be to everyone’s advantage that the current practise of Courts sitting at 10am, then rising at 4pm, Monday to Friday, often in old and out-dated Court buildings be addressed and reviewed. New technology will hopefully allow Justice to be both swifter and delivered in a far more efficient way, in more efficient arenas in order for all those having dealings with the Justice system to benefit. I feel the proposed ideas suggested be embraced rather than feared”