Hundreds of people applied for a divorce over the Christmas and New Year period, the government has revealed, in its latest announcement claiming success in moving justice processes online. 

In total more than 23,000 applications for divorce have been made online since the service was launched last April. That includes 455 applications filed between 24 December and 1 January – with 13 submitted on Christmas Day itself.

The Ministry of Justice is keen to proclaim the benefits of the fledgling system, which has been introduced as part of the wider £1bn modernisation programme. The department says online filing has cut the proportion of forms containing errors from 40% to less than 1%, with 85% of people using the service reporting they are happy with it.

Justice minister Lucy Frazer said: ‘These online services are already making a difference to people who use the justice system. As we reach this milestone it’s encouraging to see people are reporting these services work well for them and are a better fit around their busy lives.’

Lucy Frazer

Lucy Frazer QC: making a difference 

Reforming the courts - a half-time report

Reforming the courts - a half-time report

See more

Aside from divorce applications, more than 39,000 money claims have been made through the online service launched last March; 7,500 applications for probate have been made online since July, and 3,300 online PIP (personal independence payment) appeals have been submitted in six months, the announcement states. 

During 2018, more than 81,000 online pleas have been made for low-level motoring offences through the Make a Plea service introduced in 2014, while 1,400 online pleas have been made for Transport for London fare evasion since April.

The Ministry of Justice pledges that by 2020, around 100 services will be available digitally, offering a quicker and easier route for many people.

The modernisation programme has faced several criticisms and obstacles in the last year, including questions over the resourcing of the online claims services, issues over the technology used for video hearings, and concerns about the speed and scope of reforms.