https://insidehmcts.blog.gov.uk/2017/09/19/were-changing-for-a-purpose-and-listening-too/

We're changing for a purpose - and listening too


[English] - [Cymraeg]

As autumn begins, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on what I’ve learnt since I started as CEO of HMCTS last November. One of my main reflections is that we have not talked widely enough yet about our reform plans; but more importantly, I don’t think we’ve listened enough, or given enough ways for people who care about the system and how it works to help shape its improvement. I’d like to change that; and my own discussions and engagements on Twitter and elsewhere have shown that there’s a great appetite for this, but also much more we need to do to hear what’s being said.

So, to begin with, I propose to write a set of blogs that outline what we need to do, what we’ve done so far, what our plans are, and how to get involved in shaping HMCTS’s reforms for the future. My first, here, is focused on my first-hand observations of our courts and tribunals system, its strength and value, but also the deep challenges it faces and the reasons why I believe only radical reform can make it flourish for the future.

But to begin I want to say something more about why I am motivated to do this job.

I believe passionately that we need – now more than ever – a justice system that leads and inspires the world. Wider recent events (in particular, talk of a ‘post-truth world’) have, for me at least, made this underlying drive stronger and stronger. The justice system exists to pursue that slippery creature – the truth – and to use it to protect people from wrong.

Of course, as anyone knows who has compared the realities of the system to the perfect, tied-with-a-bow Agatha Christie resolutions of fiction, the truth is rarely found in its entirety; and an adversarial system comes at it differently from a continental inquisitorial one. But the endeavour is always to sift and weigh the evidence with integrity, to hear both sides of the story clearly and powerfully, and to get as close as possible to a just result that is not based on emotional sway or prejudice.

That hunger for truth – seeking after it, even when it is elusive – is the foundation of our freedom. The justice system is the means by which the truth sets us free.

So, I’m proud and privileged to do this job. Delivering the best possible courts and tribunals system seems never to have been more important. Ever since I started, I’ve had the opportunity to visit courts and tribunals in every region and in every jurisdiction (setting and keeping a personal goal of making at least one visit a week). On every visit, I’ve sat down with people – citizens using courts, staff, judges, magistrates, barristers, solicitors, volunteers, police and other partners – and discussed our service as it stands and our reform programme, asking them what they want to see from HMCTS in future.

I knew when I started that I was taking on both a challenge and an opportunity. The Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor had just published their joint statement setting out the overarching plan for reform (if you haven’t seen it, it’s a good summary of what’s in the reform programme).

I started in the job convinced by what my partners and predecessors told me about reform, but what I’ve learnt on my visits has made me even clearer on why it is needed. I’ve been consistently impressed by all those who work in the courts and tribunals I have visited – judges and court staff alike are passionately committed to what we do and want to make it better. But I’ve also seen the problems we have with poor IT, staffing that doesn’t match the demands of what they are asked to do and tired, dispiriting buildings. Although everyone I meet is dedicated to serving citizens well, it’s in the context of a system that feels long, slow and complex even in simple matters and is hampered by creaking paper processes that are hugely labour intensive, meaning other things suffer and errors multiply when staff are short. At worst, these things can make us look indifferent to other people’s time and trouble.

Out on visits, I’m often told by judges, magistrates and lawyers that local court staff work hard and do an impressive job under the circumstances, but that HMCTS as a whole doesn’t seem to be making it easy and is not always trusted to deliver well. In my view, we’re reaching the limit of the change we can make by good people in local courts working harder and trying harder. We need to make HMCTS more, rather than less, than the sum of its parts by making more fundamental change.

We often talk as though this change is all about IT, perhaps because that’s easy to explain concretely. We do of course need to move away from the paper-go-round and the endless re-keying of data from one ancient system to another, with all the attendant risks of mistakes. But it’s just as much about different ways of doing things, like using modern, professional approaches to update people on their case automatically, or make sure phones are always answered promptly and helpfully. It’s also about changing our attitude to what is ‘good enough’. For example, not accepting that it should be normal for cases to be scheduled and listed at times when parties cannot attend, or to drop out of lists repeatedly. It’s about using space well so that we can have fewer but better buildings, which are maintained properly, have the right facilities, and look smart and professional – reflecting the value of what goes on in them rather than undermining it.

The programme of change that my HMCTS predecessors and the judiciary developed together – and that we are now delivering – is one of the boldest plans in Government. It is about making the system work better, both by addressing a whole set of inefficiencies and failures and by giving people some entirely new routes to justice.

As I say, it goes well beyond IT, extending to people, skills and capabilities; to judicial ways of working (on which the judiciary lead); to our estates and to how HMCTS is organised as a whole. It involves a £1bn investment in return for saving some £250m a year by the end of the programme. Everyone who works in the system knows that there are many ways the courts can be run more efficiently and effectively, but big, up-front investment is needed to make real change.

Over recent years, we have had to tighten our belts – and people have worked hard to try to do so with as little detriment as possible. But fundamentally we have been trying to save money while using the same old inefficient systems, running more and more parsimoniously, and I think we are at the limit of what we can achieve that way. The pressure to be more efficient is not going away; but the reform programme gives us a chance to invest seriously in upgrading the way we work, so that we can deliver some ‘true’ efficiencies and genuinely have a better system that costs less, is sustainable, and is shaped by the needs of those it serves. The agreement we’ve secured with HM Treasury also – absolutely critically – means that every penny we receive from the sale of buildings will be reinvested in courts and tribunals.

Some elements of the reform programme are contested, particularly the details of how we might use our buildings better. Wholly new routes to justice – like the online court, as proposed by Lord Justice Briggs – also attract debate. On these, the most important thing we can do is to work openly and collaboratively with all who are interested (not just with the senior judiciary, though their support is unstinting, essential and welcome) as we change. We want to work with a much wider group of those interested to develop plans, test and try a wide range of new approaches and learn from trials and feedback.

I’m acutely conscious that there are still many people working in the system who haven’t seen or discussed the wider plans for HMCTS reform, or had a chance to shape them. Indeed, the recent debates on flexible operating hours made it clear that many people thought it was the main, or even the only, change we were proposing to make – and that we were focusing on that to the exclusion of all the rest. That debate has shown me that we need to do better at inviting and then listening to debate on the more difficult elements of reform (and I will have more to say in later blogs), but also to do better at explaining the rest and inviting suggestions and contributions, so that people do not mistake level of controversy for level of importance.

Other elements of the plan (most of them, in fact) attract almost no criticism in principle – very few people argue in favour of retaining paper-based processing, or argue against allowing people to track the progress of their case more easily, or improving systems for scheduling and listing. I do, though, get challenged on whether we can execute the plan well – what will make this more successful than Government (or even court) reform or IT projects of the past?

So, next week, I’ll set out more about the progress we are already making; and what has already changed for the better and how. The steps are small but they are a good harbinger of what is to come; and they begin to show (in deeds rather than words) that we can deliver the change we all want.

If you’d like to find out more about HMCTS reform, or share your views on how it should be shaped, please leave your comments below or send them by email to us. We are also considering more engagement activities for legal professionals and I’ve been asked to consider putting on an event on a Saturday, you can email to register your interest; if we get enough takers in principle we’ll set one up.


[English] - [Cymraeg]

Ar ddechrau’r hydref, roeddwn eisiau cymryd y cyfle i feddwl am beth rwyf wedi’i ddysgu ers imi gychwyn fel Prif Swyddog Gweithredol GLlTEM mis Tachwedd diwethaf. Un o’r prif bethau nad ydym wedi siarad digon amdano hyd yma ydi’n cynlluniau o ran diwygio. Ond yn bwysicach byth, nid wyf yn credu ein bod wedi gwrando digon, neu gynnig ffyrdd i’r bobl sy’n pryderu am y system, a’r ffordd mae’n gweithio, i helpu ei wella. Hoffwn newid hynny, ac mae fy nhrafodaethau ac ymgysylltiad personol ar Twitter ymysg llefydd eraill wedi dangos bod awch am hyn, ond bod gymaint mwy i'w wneud i wrando ar beth mae pobl yn ei ddweud.

Felly, i ddechrau rwy’n mynd cynnig cyhoeddi cyfres o flogiau a fydd yn amlinellu beth sydd angen i ni ei wneud, yr hyn rydym wedi’i wneud hyd yma, beth yw ein cynlluniau, a sut i fod yn rhan o lunio'r dyfodol a diwygio GLlTEM. Mae’r cyntaf, sef hwn, yn canolbwyntio ar fy argraffiadau uniongyrchol cyntaf o’n system llysoedd a thribiwnlysoedd, ei gryfder a’i werth, yn ogystal â'r heriau mawr mae'n ei wynebu a'r rhesymau pam fy mod yn credu mai dim ond diwygio radical yw’r ateb i wneud iddo ffynnu yn y dyfodol.

Ond i gychwyn, rwyf eisiau dweud mwy am y rheswm pam fy mod yn frwdfrydig i wneud y swydd hon.

Rwy’n credu’n gryf bod arnom angen – yn awr yn fwy nag erioed – system cyfiawnder sy’n arwain y ffordd ac yn ysbrydoli’r byd. Mae digwyddiadau ehangach yn ddiweddar (yn benodol, y sgwrs am fyd ‘ôl-wirionedd’) imi o leiaf, wedi gwneud yr angen sylfaenol i gyflawni hyn yn gryfach o lawer. Mae’r system cyfiawnder yn bodoli i fynd ar drywydd y creadur llithrig hwnnw – y gwir – a’i ddefnyddio i amddiffyn pobl rhag cam.

Wrth gwrs, fel y gwyr unrhyw un sydd wedi cymharu’r system mewn gwirionedd gyda datrysiadau perffaith Agatha Christie yn ei gwaith ffuglen, anaml y ceir y gwir yn ei gyfanrwydd; ac mae system wrthwynebus yn cynnig rhywbeth gwahanol i system chwilysaidd gyfandirol. Ond yr ymdrech bob amser yw bod yn onest wrth bwyso a mesur y dystiolaeth, gwrando’n astud ar ddwy ochr y stori a cheisio dod mor agos â phosib i ganlyniad teg nad yw'n seiliedig ar emosiwn na rhagfarn yn unig.

Y dyhead hwnnw am y gwir – ceisio dod o hyd iddo, hyd yn oed pan mae’n anodd gwneud hynny – yw sylfaen ein rhyddid. Y system cyfiawnder yw’r modd lle mae’r gwir yn ein gollwng yn rhydd.

Felly, rwy’n falch ac yn freintiedig i fod yn gwneud y swydd hon. Mae darparu’r system llysoedd a thribiwnlysoedd gorau posibl yn bwysicach nag erioed. Ers imi gychwyn, rwyf wedi cael y cyfle i ymweld â llysoedd a thribiwnlysoedd ym mhob rhanbarth ac ym mhob awdurdodaeth (rwyf wedi gosod a chadw fy nod bersonol o ymweld ag un safle'r wythnos o leiaf). Yn ystod pob ymweliad, rwyf wedi eistedd i lawr gyda phobl - dinasyddion sy’n defnyddio’r llysoedd, staff, barnwyr, ynadon, bargyfreithwyr, cyfreithwyr, gwirfoddolwyr, swyddogion yr heddlu a phartneriaid eraill - a thrafod ein gwasanaeth fel y mae ar hyn o bryd a’n rhaglen diwygio, a gofyn iddynt beth maent eisiau ei weld gan GLlTEM yn y dyfodol.

Roeddwn yn gwybod fy mod yn ymgymryd â her yn ogystal â chyfle pan ddechreuais i. Roedd yr Arglwydd Brif Ustus a’r Arglwydd Ganghellor newydd gyhoeddi eu datganiad ar y cyd yn nodi'r cynllun trosfwaol ar gyfer diwygio (os nad ydych eisoes wedi'i weld, mae’n grynodeb da o beth sydd yn y rhaglen ddiwygio).

Dechreuais i'r swydd wedi fy narbwyllo o beth ddywedodd fy mhartneriaid a’m rhagflaenwyr wrthyf am ddiwygio, ond mae beth rwyf wedi’i ddysgu yn ystod fy ymweliadau wedi fy ngwneud i’n fwy ymwybodol o pam fod angen diwygio. Rwyf wedi fy rhyfeddu’n gyson gan y rhai sy'n gweithio yn y llysoedd a'r tribiwnlysoedd y bu imi ymweld â hwy – mae barnwyr a staff y llys yn hynod o ymrwymedig i’r hyn rydym yn ei wneud ac eisiau parhau i’w wella. Ond, rwyf hefyd wedi gweld y problemau sydd gennym gyda TG gwael, nifer staff sydd ddim yn cyd-fynd gyda’r galw a beth y gofynnir ohonynt, ac adeiladau sy’n edrych yn ddigalon ac wedi gweld dyddiau gwell. Er bod pawb rwy’n cyfarfod â nhw’n ymroddedig i wasanaethu dinasyddion yn dda, mae mewn cyd-destun system sydd yn teimlo’n hir, yn araf ac yn gymhleth, ac mae hyd yn oed materion syml yn cael eu rhwystro gan brosesau papur aneffeithiol sydd yn hynod lafurus, sy’n golygu fod pethau eraill yn dioddef a bod camgymeriadau’n cynyddu pan nad oes digon o staff. Ar ei gwaethaf, gall wneud i ni edrych fel nad ydym yn ystyried bod amser ac ymdrechion pobl o bwys.

Yn ystod ymweliadau, bydd barnwyr, ynadon a chyfreithwyr yn dweud wrthyf yn aml fod staff y llysoedd lleol yn gweithio’n galed ac yn gwneud gwaith arbennig dan yr amgylchiadau, ond nad yw GLlTEM yn ei gyfanrwydd yn ymddangos fel ei fod yn gwneud eu gwaith yn haws ac nid yw pobl yn ymddiried ynddo i gyflawni'n dda bob amser. Yn fy marn i, rydym yn agosáu at gyrraedd y terfyn mewn perthynas â’r newid y gallwn ei wneud o ganlyniad i bobl yn y llysoedd lleol yn gweithio a thrio’n galetach. Mae angen inni wneud GLlTEM yn fwy yn hytrach na llai mewn ffordd, drwy wneud mwy o newidiadau sylfaenol.

Rydym yn siarad yn aml fel bod y newid hwn ond yn ymwneud â TG, efallai oherwydd ei fod yn haws rhoi esboniad pendant amdano. Wrth gwrs mae angen inni symud i ffwrdd o’r prosesau papur a'r broses ddiddiwedd o gadw data o un system hynafol i'r llall, gyda'r holl risgiau o gamgymeriadau. Ond hefyd, mae’n ymwneud â gwahanol ffyrdd o wneud pethau, fel defnyddio dulliau modern a phroffesiynol wrth ddiweddaru pobl ynglŷn â’u hachos yn awtomatig, neu wneud galwadau ffôn sy’n cael eu hateb yn brydlon a bod y sawl sy’n ateb y ffôn yn gallu helpu. Mae hefyd yn ymwneud â newid ein hagwedd tuag at beth sy’n ‘ddigon da’. Er enghraifft, peidio â derbyn y dylai fod yn normal i achosion gael eu hamserlennu a’u rhestru ar amseroedd ble na all partïon fod yn bresennol, neu eu bod yn cael eu tynnu oddi ar y rhestr yn rheolaidd. Mae’n ymwneud â defnyddio’r llefydd gwag yn dda fel y gallwn gael llai o adeiladau, ond adeiladau gwell, sy’n cael eu cynnal yn iawn gyda’r cyfleusterau cywir, ac sy’n edrych yn dda a phroffesiynol - sy’n adlewyrchu’r gwerth o ran beth sy’n mynd ymlaen ynddynt yn hytrach na’u tanseilio.

Mae’r rhaglen newid y bu i fy rhagflaenwyr yn GLlTEM a’r farnwriaeth ddatblygu â’i gilydd - ac sydd bellach yn cael ei gweithredu - yn un o’r cynlluniau mwyaf beiddgar o fewn y Llywodraeth. Y bwriad yw gwneud y system i weithio’n well, drwy fynd i’r afael â set gyfan o bethau aneffeithiol a methiannau, a drwy gynnig ffyrdd newydd i bobl gael mynediad at gyfiawnder.

Fel rwy’n dweud, mae’n mynd ymhell tu hwnt i TG, mae’n cynnwys pobl, sgiliau a galluoedd; hyd at ffyrdd barnwrol o weithio (y farnwriaeth yn arwain); i’n ystadau a sut mae GLlTEM wedi’i threfnu'n gyffredinol. Mae’n cynnwys buddsoddiad o £1bn yn gyfnewid am arbed £250m y flwyddyn erbyn diwedd y rhaglen. Mae pawb sy’n gweithio yn y system yn gwybod bod nifer o ffyrdd y gall y llysoedd gael eu rhedeg yn fwy effeithlon ac effeithiol, ond mae angen buddsoddiad mawr ymlaen llaw i wneud gwahaniaeth go iawn.

Dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf, rydym wedi gorfod bod yn ofalus – ac mae pobl wedi gweithio’n galed i geisio gwneud hynny gyda chyn lleied o effaith â phosib. Felly, rydym wedi bod yn ceisio arbed arian wrth ddefnyddio’r un hen systemau aneffeithiol, gan fynd yn fwyfwy cynnil, a chredaf ein bod wedi cyrraedd pen y daith o ran beth allwn ei gyflawni fel hyn. Nid yw’r pwysau i fod yn fwy effeithiol yn diflannu; ond mae’r rhaglen ddiwygio yn rhoi’r cyfle inni fuddsoddi o ddifrif mewn diweddaru'r ffordd rydym yn gweithio, fel y gallwn sicrhau ‘gwir’ arbedion effeithlon a chael system well o lawer sy'n costio llai, sy’n gynaliadwy, ac sy’n cael ei lywio gan anghenion y rhai maen ei wasanaethu. Mae’r cytundeb rydym wedi ei sicrhau gyda Thrysorlys EM – sy’n hanfodol - hefyd yn golygu y bydd pob ceiniog o’r arian y byddwn yn ei gael o ganlyniad i werthu adeiladau yn cael ei ail-fuddsoddi yn y llysoedd a’r tribiwnlysoedd.

Mae rhai elfennau o’r rhaglen ddiwygio yn cael eu herio, yn arbennig y manylion am sut y gallem ddefnyddio ein hadeiladau yn well. Mae’r ffyrdd newydd o gael mynediad at gyfiawnder - fel y llys ar-lein, fel y cynigiwyd gan yr Arglwydd Ustus Briggs – hefyd yn denu dadl. Ynglŷn â’r rhain, y peth pwysicaf y gallwn ei wneud yw gweithio’n agored ac ar y cyd gyda phawb sydd â diddordeb (nid yn unig gyda’r uwch farnwriaeth, er y byddwn yn croesawu eu cefnogaeth hael a hanfodol) wrth inni newid. Rydym eisiau gweithio gyda grŵp ehangach o'r rhai sydd â diddordeb i ddatblygu cynlluniau, profi a rhoi cynnig ar amrywiaeth eang o ddulliau newydd a dysgu yn dilyn treialu a drwy gael adborth.

Rwyf yn ymwybodol iawn bod llawer o bobl sy’n gweithio yn y system yn dal heb weld, neu drafod y cynlluniau ehangach ar gyfer rhaglen ddiwygio GLlTEM, neu wedi cael y cyfle i’w ffurfio. Yn wir, mae’r dadleuon diweddar ar oriau gweithredu hyblyg wedi dangos yn glir bod nifer o bobl yn meddwl mai dyma oedd y prif, neu hyd yn oed yr unig newid yr oeddwn yn bwriadu ei wneud – a’n bod yn canolbwyntio ar hwnnw yn hytrach na’r gweddill. Mae’r ddadl wedi dangos bod angen i ni wella’r ffordd rydym yn gwahodd a gwrando ar safbwyntiau ar yr elfennau dadleuol o ddiwygio (a bydd gennyf ragor i’w ddweud mewn blogiau yn y dyfodol), ond hefyd gwella’r ffordd rydym yn esbonio’r gweddill a gwahodd awgrymiadau a chyfraniadau, fel nad yw pobl yn camgymryd lefel y ddadl am lefel y pwysigrwydd.

Mae elfennau eraill y cynllun (y rhan fwyaf ohonynt a dweud y gwir) yn denu bron ddim beirniadaeth mewn egwyddor - ychydig iawn o bobl sy’n dadlau o blaid cadw prosesau papur, neu ddadlau yn erbyn caniatáu pobl i gadw golwg ar gynnydd eu hachos yn haws, neu wella’r systemau ar gyfer amserlennu a rhestru. Fodd bynnag, rwyf yn cael fy herio ar p'un a allwn weithredu'r cynllun yn dda – beth fydd yn gwneud hyn yn fwy llwyddiannus na diwygio’r Llywodraeth (neu hyd yn oed y Llys) neu brosiectau TG y gorffennol?

Felly, yr wythnos nesaf, byddaf yn nodi mwy am y cynnydd rydym eisoes yn ei wneud; a beth sydd eisoes wedi newid er gwell a sut bu i hynny ddigwydd. Mae’r rhain yn gamau bychain, ond maent yn rhoi syniad da o’r hyn sydd i ddod; ac maent yn dechrau dangos (mewn gweithredoedd yn hytrach na geiriau) y gallwn gyflawni'r newid rydym i gyd eisiau.

7 comments

  1. Comment by Robin Murray posted on

    I like the tone of the blog which is refreshingly open to comment.

    I am someone a little known for campaigning on matters and would welcome any genuine new channels of communication.

    I do fear that the most pressing crisis is court failure to uphold the CRimPRs against Crown failure. It is this which causes more disruption and delay than anything else. Please see:
    https://mintedlaw.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/interim-clsa-disclosure-survey-results-if-her-majestys-courts-and-the-crown-prosecution-service-do-not-obey-laws-and-lawful-regulations-why-should-the-rest-of-us/ and

    https://mintedlaw.wordpress.com/2017/09/15/lord-chancellor-wasted-costs-orders-are-wasted-on-the-laa-change-the-rules-to-compensate-those-who-suffer-the-loss/

    Other issues are shocking hearing of bad character applications at trial which is highly prejudicial.

    Also listing issues at MC's so on many days the courts are jammed packed and other days almost tumbleweed blowing through them. Regular listing chaos. So stupid. Why?

    False economy demanding cases are trial ready on day 1. Results in hasty decisions based on inadequate disclosure and time to obtain proper instructions with result trials crack or de- listed early.

  2. Comment by Tim Wallis posted on

    “One of my main reflections is that we have not talked widely enough yet about our reform plans; but more importantly, I don’t think we’ve listened enough, or given enough ways for people who care about the system and how it works to help shape its improvement. I’d like to change that;”
    Bravo!

    “I believe passionately that we need – now more than ever – a justice system that leads and inspires the world.”
    Bravo!

    Generally:
    Bravo!

    Having waited since the now distant Woolf report for the civil justice system to embrace IT I hope that these positive and inspirational words can be successfully translated into deeds – in conjunction with those who use the system!

  3. Comment by Michael Robinson posted on

    Well, it does indeed seem like you are starting to listen.
    I shall say this again and again until it happens: the only way to ensure that the reforms to HMCTS are truly efficient requires an agreed definition of "efficient"; proper consultation with Solicitors as to what works and what doesn't work across the Justice systems (let's call it an holistic approach) will help create a framework for this agreed definition; and an acceptance that IT and wifi is not necessary, in all cases, to ensure the matter is dealt with effectively.

    Too often reform has been about what best suits the Judges or the Courts or the Police or CPS or Probation, in isolation and with no concern at all about other parts of the system or Solicitors. In recent years there has been a new-found desire to please victims of crime yet, for instance, listing is a constant slap in the face for victims.

    This is why an holistic approach is required.

    Let's have cross discipline open meetings on a local basis and allow the deliberations to be drawn together and considered at a National level.

  4. Comment by Gabrielle Armstrong posted on

    It is nice to see HMCTS forward thinking and someone taking a broad approach to reforms/change. If we want to be the go to Jurisdiction we cannot remain static and must look through the eyes of the end-user: taking into account their experiences now will shape and inform how best changes can be made. Supermarkets and coffee shops use mystery shoppers, panel groups and product testers to continuously improve - maybe HMCTS can learn from the business world to enable it to provide users with a seamless experience.

  5. Comment by Anon posted on

    Hilary Heilbron QC wrote Civil Justice on Trial: the Case for Change as far back as 1993. Broadly speaking she identified the byzantine complexity of the rules of procedure ( then contained in the RSC and CCR) as the cause of cost and delay in the Civil Justice system. Woolf on the other hand put the blame squarely on solicitors and decided the answer was active case management by the courts, which, of course, led (eventually) to the CPR of today. Whatever else may be said about the CPR (and I applaud in particular the promotion of pre-action protocols and the culture-change re attempts at early settlement) it has certainly not amounted to a "streamlining" of the old rules. Anyone who used to deal with uncontested commercial lease renewals under the CCR will know that the CPR has imposed substantial additional costs and complexity to a system which largely worked well away from the all-seeing eye of the courts. The recent trend towards absolute compliance and automatic sanctions reminds me of the horror that was Order 17 of the old CCR, which provided for automatic striking out. It caused so much injustice that eventually it was rightly jettisoned. But, memories are short and history has a habit of repeating itself. In my view, justice is usually the loser when the courts become too authoritarian. So, we have a current system which is no less complex than the old one, and is enforced with great rigour. At the same time we have a court service which is gasping for funds and running on empty most of the time. My heart goes out to the court staff trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. So, in the month when a court refused relief from sanction to a party who filed their costs budget a day late, I received 3 days notice of a court hearing which required preparation of a bundle, marshalling of several witnesses and instruction of counsel (it was eventually adjourned after starting late due to another case being shoe-horned in ahead of us, although the judge did complement me on the speed at which I had assembled all and sundry). I also received 3 days notice of an eviction which required me to file the risk assessment 3 clear days in advance! It went ahead after several frantic phone calls and e-mails, all of which added to the time and costs. A case of don't do as I do, do as I say! Some simplification and humanity would go a long way to promote justice and create a workable civil justice system.

  6. Comment by Cindy Etherton posted on

    This blog seems like a highly 'significant step' in the context of large change and I too like the tone it sets and guidance it gives. It encourages comments, input and emphasises 'listening' as if our C&TS future depends on it; in truth it probably does. 'Empathetic user experiences' design must take account of actual users one and all. The alternative is to wait for the fails and crisis (collisions) that inevitably set us on new paths. Bringing in the 'external factor' from the business world would help stretch thinking and enrich and accelerate the program.

  7. Comment by Nick Ephgrave NPCC posted on

    Reform to HMCTS is welcome but it cannot be done in isolation or without considering the impact on partners. That is why I am glad that you focus on listening better. Savings for HMCTS which are predicated on other partners investing significantly is not real saving, of course, and that is a point that has on occasion been overlooked.