HM Courts & Tribunals has announced it is investing up to £6m in new listing software to help cases proceed on time and cut court delays. However, the technology will initially be introduced to a small number of courts over the next nine months before it is rolled out nationally.
Scheduling and listing are currently managed using multiple systems, including paper-based files and tools based on Outlook diaries. HMCTS said the new software will give a better picture of capacity across the court estate. It will support better use of hearing spaces, reduce administrative tasks so that staff can focus on the more complex areas of hearing management, and provide greater confidence that hearings will proceed when scheduled.
The two-year contract, initially for £3.2m with an option to extend it by another two years, has been awarded to McGirr Technologies, an Australian company. The company’s website states that it is Australia’s most experienced specialist provider of case management systems for courts, tribunals and commissions, and ‘all Australian-based staff are dedicated to court solutions’. The Gazette was told that the company will be setting up a UK office as part of the contract.
HMCTS said the technology will be installed and tested in a small number of courts over the next nine months, ‘after which we will set out plans to roll the technology out nationally’.
Courts minister Chris Philp said the investment was a significant step to bringing the courts and tribunals service into the 21st century. ‘Listing can take a huge amount of time for our hardworking staff and this investment will support them to focus on important work helping all court and tribunal users,’ he said.
Latest government statistics show that the backlog of Crown court cases in England Wales has reached its highest level in two years, which lawyers fear has worsened significantly in the past few weeks because of enforced closures caused by the coronavirus.