The lord chancellor has accepted ‘all in principle’ of Sir Brian Leveson’s proposals for improving the efficiency of justice proceedings – especially those to improve the ‘ownership’ of criminal cases.
Leveson’s review, published in January, proposed widespread changes in the criminal courts, including greater use of IT and ensuring that each case has a named individual responsible for its conduct.
In a letter to the president of the Queen’s Bench Division, opening ‘Dear Brian’, Chris Grayling says he welcomes the recommendations, ‘accepts them all in principle’ and is ‘keen to make rapid progress on those recommendations which can be delivered quickly’.
These include measures to ensure case ownership, on which the police and Crown Prosecution Service ‘are involved in discussions’. Grayling also says he is taking up Leveson’s call to ensure that the lead advocate in a case receives the Legal Aid Agency fee, rather than the ‘instructed advocate’, as at present.
Leveson said that the ‘instructed advocate’ often plays only a small part in the case and the cashflow advantages of receiving the legal aid payment can act as a perverse incentive.
Grayling also reveals that HM Courts & Tribunals Service is examining the possibility of listing cases together when a law firm or barristers’ set has a number of cases in the same court on a particular day. ‘This brigading of cases would benefit both the defence and the CPS,’ he says.
Many IT improvements called for by Leveson are already in train, Grayling says, with the Criminal Justice Service Common Platform programme now in ‘delivery phase’. Systems will be tested in the Crown court from this summer, the letter claims.