The court and tribunals services are for everyone. People from across our society may interact with HMCTS services for a multitude of different reasons, from applying for a divorce or probate, submitting or settling a money claim, or acting as a juror or witness, among many others. Regardless of the reason people are engaging with HMCTS, the service they receive should be fair, proportionate and accessible.
I previously wrote a blog about how my team, the Public User Engagement function at HMCTS, works with a network of organisations – often from the third sector – to understand the needs of particular groups of people. Working with those organisations regularly helps us to understand the many and varied needs of our public users on an ongoing basis. I wanted to use this short piece to discuss and promote one particular way we give the opportunity for members of the public and court users to directly engage with the services we are reforming.
Our annual event: 2020 edition
Every year in November, my team welcomes these people to our Annual Public User Event. It’s an opportunity to hear from those users that we don’t typically get the chance to directly engage with, but who can provide vital insights and feedback on our services, as just one way of ensuring access to justice remains at the heart of what we are reforming. Usually held as a single day conference we tend to welcome around 200 attendees into our London headquarters to view demonstrations, speak with those delivering reformed court and tribunal services, and hear from senior leaders and Ministers on the progress of the programme during the previous 12 months. Whether you’re someone who has previously used court services, or work with people who do, this event serves as an opportunity for every single user of our services to make their voice a part of what we are changing and improving.
This year, due to the restrictions brought about by COVID-19, we’re moving our annual event online. Whilst I’m sorry I’ll miss out on the opportunity to welcome attendees into our offices once again and talk to our guests in person about their experiences in using our services, I’m actually incrediblyexcited about the flexibility that the online format will bring to our audience, and we already look set to attract record numbers of attendees for one of these events.
We’ve decided to run the event between Tuesday 3 and Thursday 5 November 2020, splitting the programme by jurisdiction to enable attendees to home in on the areas that matter to them, and ask questions about the services that most impact on their personal or working lives. From last year’s feedback, I know that a more focused approach is something that attendees felt strongly about, so this has been a deliberate step to continue to evolve the event in an audience-focused way. We’ll be using Microsoft Teams, to enable attendees to participate in question and answer sessions, access live demonstrations of online services and hear about how COVID-19 has impacted on our programme and services, and importantly, how we’re recovering from this.
Please join us
Registration for the 2020 event is now open, with the opportunity to sign up to as many or as few of the sessions as you’d like. We’ll be providing further information on the full list of sessions to those who have registered shortly and for an insight into what you can expect, you can still view the content from the 2019 event on our GOV.UK pages. I’d be delighted to (virtually) welcome you as one of our guests at this year’s event.