Justice minister Lord Wolfson has vowed to update lawyers on improvements to the controversial new online site for procedure rules.
The blueprints for civil, family and criminal law have all moved to the gov.uk website in recent days but the change has been criticised by large numbers of users.
The system has been described as unusable and in particular created doubts about how litigants in person can navigate their way through the rules in their current format.
Following the issue being raised by the Gazette on Wednesday, Lord Wolfson said he was looking into the issue having read the points made online by critics.
In a further update yesterday, he tweeted: ‘I’ve asked my officials to look at this urgently, because it’s an access to justice issue, and work is already underway. I am to provide a further update next week.
‘Thanks again to all who have posted helpful suggestions and comments here (we do listen!).’
The main problem with the new format appears to be that rules are divided into numerous sub-headings and categorised in blocks of 20, without any explanation or reason. Previously the rules were set out on page and sections much easier to search for and find.
There are also potential issues with links that have been included in electronic bundles that might not direct judges and other parties to the correct rule or paragraph.
Lawyers have asked why the transfer was made with seemingly no consultation with those who access the system. Many voiced their frustrations on Twitter:
Aaaaaaaaaagh. The old site worked perfectly well and was easy to navigate. This new site is a dogs dinner and makes it harder to access the rules @DXWQC— Alan M (@Romfordalan) February 17, 2021
Whereas all I really wanted was the commentary from the white book to be added to the previous site on a free to access basis *sigh*— Hugh Johnson (@MedNegLaw) February 17, 2021
Andrew King, dispute resolution solicitor and owner of Lennons Solicitors, said: ‘I’m sure we will get used to it but it has the appearance of being clumsily put together and it’s navigation is much clunkier than the previous website. Given the new site was presumably built with litigants in person in mind, my view is that many will struggle.’