HM Courts & Tribunals Service has put the completion date for its court modernisation programme back by a year.
The government announced today the revised proposed finish date of the £1bn project will now be 2023.
Ministers said they had learnt from the services already reformed and feedback received from the Public Accounts Committee and National Audit Office. The plan is now to ‘reorder aspects of the programme’ to allow more time to develop some of the shared systems that will form the basis of the next set of online services. It is not clear from the announcement which services are being held back and delayed by the extra year.
HMCTS added: ‘The reform programme is both essential and ambitious. It will transform the administration of justice by shaping it around the needs of its users, and we are determined to deliver it effectively in the interests of all. Existing services, which are already providing quicker and easier access to justice for many - including divorcing couples, executors of wills and people appealing decisions about their benefits - continue to be available and will have more elements added to them in the coming years.’
The programme has so far delivered a pilot of fully-video hearings in the tax tribunal, a new in-court system to record the result of cases digitally and instantly, a civil money claims service for low-value cases, and online divorce and probate services.
As recently as last month, when HMCTS responded to the Public Accounts Committee’s plea for progress reports, the department was envisaging a finish date of May 2022.
Last May, the National Audit Office warned of a ‘significant risk’ that HMCTS would not be able to achieve all it wants within the time available. The revised completion date, subject to cross-government approval, means the project is now due to take seven years in total.