Article Subject:
Digital Courts

May 12, 2022
Child defendants in the pandemic – did courts make the right compromises to keep the wheels of justice turning?

Should a child learn that they have been convicted of murder while they are on… Read more

April 11, 2022
Keeping the wheels of justice turning – magistrates’ views on justice in the pandemic

What can we learn from pandemic justice? Unfortunately, the Covid inquiry is not going to… Read more

March 25, 2022
Is imprisonment before trial the result of poor risk assessment?

How long does it take to hear the arguments for and against depriving someone of… Read more

October 2, 2021
Covid justice – how not to do it?

This week we discovered that Sarah Everard’s killer falsely arrested her by accusing her of… Read more

September 8, 2021
Swipe right to plead guilty

Does it matter where and how someone pleads guilty or not guilty to a crime?… Read more

August 27, 2021
Computer says yes – you will pay a fine and get a criminal record

Media about the criminal justice system is dominated by trials with judges and barristers in… Read more

June 14, 2021
Barely legal? The experience of remote tribunal hearings

Last week two experiences brought home how wary we should be of assuming that remote… Read more

April 20, 2021
To blindly go? Learning (or not) from pandemic policing

How did policing adapt during the pandemic? And now lockdown is lifting, which changes should… Read more

February 26, 2021
Not remotely fair? Access to a lawyer in the police station during the Covid-19 pandemic

Transform Justice, Fair Trials and the NAAN (the National Appropriate Adult Network) have published a… Read more

February 1, 2021
Why we need to go slow on some court hearings and abandon others

What compromises do we need to make and who should pay the price? The courts… Read more

January 4, 2021
Does it matter if those accused of crime plead guilty or not guilty?

Just before Christmas news leaked out that the government was getting cold feet about decriminalising… Read more

November 6, 2020
Remote justice – a view of the pros and cons from an anonymous judge

This week’s guest blog is from an anonymous district judge who sits in civil and… Read more

October 2, 2020
How much do we value effective participation in justice?

If we really value effective participation in justice should we pause remote hearings involving real… Read more

September 6, 2020
Online immigration appeals – better, quicker?

The digital court reform programme was trundling along relatively slowly before the pandemic. Discrete jurisdictions… Read more

July 25, 2020
Is remote justice slowing the system down?

Recently Boris Johnson described zoom calls as a miracle, but that sometimes there is “no… Read more

July 23, 2020
Are video links causing the criminal justice system to slow down?

Recently Boris Johnson described zoom calls as a miracle, but that sometimes there is “no… Read more

July 8, 2020
Links for seminar

The EHRC report is here (the interim report is the one particular focussed on virtual)… Read more

July 7, 2020
Links for seminar on remote criminal justice

The EHRC report is here (the interim report is the one particular focussed on virtual)… Read more

June 11, 2020
Does virtual justice increase discrimination?

I have been observing courts in the pandemic. One day at Highbury Magistrates’ Court a… Read more

May 14, 2020
The wheels of justice are turning but at what cost?

This week the Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland spoke about parliamentary business and the constraints of… Read more

May 5, 2020
Defendants on video can feel like caged animals

In pre-Covid times the government was trying to get digital court reform going. The PCC… Read more

April 24, 2020
Can we access video-enabled justice?

The history of video court hearings in this country goes back quite a long way… Read more

April 14, 2020
Trial by skype : uncharted waters

Before Boris Johnson went into hospital, he, his staff and his cabinet were meeting via… Read more

April 3, 2020
Is closed justice a price worth paying to keep courts running?

The proponents of digital justice have had a field day since the courts went on… Read more

March 26, 2020
Reducing detention in police custody – time for radical solutions

Transform Justice has been working for the last year on the over-use of police custody… Read more

February 21, 2020
Why snail mail leads to no bail

More and more defendants are charged or asked to attend court by post. Most crimes… Read more

November 15, 2019
Should we be imprisoning people for forgetting to turn up to court?

If you go into any magistrates court you will notice that cases often don’t go… Read more

November 1, 2019
Digital court reform: the risks of user testing

This week Bob Neill MP, Chair of the Justice Committee launched their report on the… Read more

September 13, 2019
The demise of local justice?

What price local justice? Unfortunately no one has been able to identify and quantify the… Read more

August 19, 2019
The right to know you are accused of a crime

Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the right to be informed promptly, in a… Read more

May 25, 2019
Police want to fight crime not run courts

I do not find the role of Cassandra particularly pleasant but every time there’s new criticism of… Read more

May 23, 2019
Police want to fight crime, not operate courts

I do not find the role of Cassandra particularly pleasant but every time there’s new criticism… Read more

May 18, 2019
Court reform – how fit for the future?

Normal government convention seems to have gone out of the window. In the old days… Read more

April 11, 2019
The secret room – who is listening to what in digital courts?

When lawyers have previously expressed their concerns about the confidentiality of video links, I’ve not… Read more

March 24, 2019
Do people prefer doing justice online?

Do people want to do justice online? The government says they do and, in some… Read more

February 10, 2019
Court hearings on demand – a triumph for openness or an invasion of privacy?

The other day the senior judiciary published the actions they’d agreed as a result of… Read more

January 18, 2019
Bedtime reading list on digital court reform and court closures

  Many of you are preparing to respond to the Justice Committee’s inquiry on courts… Read more

January 11, 2019
Opening Pandora’s Box? Consulting judges on court reform

The public are used to consultations which seem to be tick box exercises. Every consultation… Read more

December 20, 2018
£35 million plus on digital court reform consultants in eight months

“It really is not reasonable to expect court staff, judges or court users to attend… Read more

December 16, 2018
How new technology can both consume and save time: lessons for digital court reform?

“A shambolic day for youth justice at Bromley YC. Still sitting, still waiting for 3… Read more

December 4, 2018
David and Goliath or cat and mouse? Prising information on digital court reform out of the Ministry of Justice

I must be the bane of the Ministry of Justice with my endless FOIs (freedom… Read more

November 23, 2018
Mice, broken lifts and buckets – the state of courts in England and Wales

Once upon a time there were lots of courts up and down the country and… Read more

November 1, 2018
Why is the justice system so starved of resources?

The timing of Justice Week was unfortunate given it started with the Chancellor announcing a… Read more

October 27, 2018
“I could see they believed me” – the importance of feeling listened to in court

I feel overwhelmed with a cornucopia of information. I regularly submit FOIs to the courts… Read more

October 12, 2018
I fear there is no magic money tree for justice, so the only solution is to shrink the system

  “Mags Ct today in chaos. 2 duty solicitors unable to cope because almost none… Read more

October 6, 2018
Computer says no bail – does AI reduce or increase human bias?

Does artificial intelligence (AI) – the ability of a machine or a computer program to… Read more

September 11, 2018
Court is a delicate ecosystem in which human contact is essential

It is research, but not as we know it. After months of bugging HMCTS to… Read more

September 8, 2018
Digital court reform – dissent in the ranks?

Up until recently, judges’ views of the digital court reform programme have been little known… Read more

July 17, 2018
The death of local justice? How court closures marginalise rural communities

“I have had clients who have told me that they cannot afford to travel from… Read more

June 23, 2018
#thelawisnotbroken – court users seem happy enough with today’s courts

A rather confounding survey was published by the Courts Service (HMCTS) this week. It said… Read more

June 13, 2018
Justice must not just be done, but be seen to be done

Pamela Attfield was interested in putting in a small claim and so wanted to observe… Read more

May 20, 2018
The illusion of open justice

The judiciary seem exercised by the future of open justice. They are consulting judges and… Read more

May 8, 2018
More in hope than expectation? The government’s digital court reform programme

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the courts need to become more efficient. Saving… Read more

April 30, 2018
Not the “awkward squad”: unrepresented defendants in the Crown Court

In 2015 when I was trying (with difficulty) to do research on unrepresented defendants in… Read more

April 20, 2018
“Children don’t appreciate they are in court, not on a computer game”

How can it be that vulnerable child defendants have ended up participating in important court… Read more

March 19, 2018
Remand by skype – the dystopian future for an already broken system

Imagine being imprisoned on remand in relation to a crime you did not commit on the basis… Read more

February 17, 2018
Court closures – trying to get a quart into a pint pot?

How many courts do you need to close before the system grinds to a halt? … Read more

February 15, 2018
Court closures – trying to get a quart into a pint pot?

How many courts do you need to close before the system grinds to a halt? … Read more

February 9, 2018
Does the digital court reform programme risk more “enemies of the people” accusations?

This week some twitter wags pointed out that in having huge technical problems with video… Read more

February 3, 2018
The potential harm of video court hearings – its not just about crime

“The absence of the applicant in the court automatically depersonalises him/her. His/her feelings and emotions… Read more

January 19, 2018
When is a consultation not a consultation? More on digital court reform

I have badgered the Ministry of Justice to do a proper public consultation on their… Read more

January 1, 2018
Why is the courts service spending at least £30 million on management consultants?

I had heard through the grapevine that the courts service in England and Wales (HMCTS)… Read more

November 17, 2017
Video links make court into “another virtual experience” – a prisoner speaks

This week is a guest “blog” from a serving prisoner who wrote to me about… Read more

November 11, 2017
Click here to plead guilty – the latest on online courts

It has gone a bit quiet on the online criminal court front. The Queens’ Speech… Read more

October 22, 2017
Defendants on video – conveyor belt justice or a revolution in access?

New report on virtual justice (video courts) published today

October 22, 2017
Convenience is the lowest common denominator of access to justice

Convenience is great when all others things are equal. Making services easy to access is… Read more

September 29, 2017
“Lost in translation”? Fighting for your liberty on video

“I’ve only had one good experience with video link, and I’ve had lots of experience,… Read more

June 16, 2017
On screen but disconnected? The reality of virtual justice

I visited Chatham magistrates’ court this week. It’s opposite a busy shopping centre but I… Read more

June 9, 2017
Post election, can we take a rain check on virtual justice?

The electorate has spoken and we have ended up with a minority Conservative government. The… Read more

June 3, 2017
New survey on virtual courts

If you have experience of working with defendants/offenders appearing on video links or are a… Read more

March 10, 2017
Online justice – a cautionary tale

If you are charged with speeding, or driving without insurance, and admit guilt, you can… Read more

February 17, 2017
Unintended but costly consequences

I wrote last week that the government were moving hell for leather to implement online… Read more

February 10, 2017
How can justice be “seen to be done” in an online system?

The government is proceeding hell for leather with online justice both in the civil and… Read more

January 22, 2017
Is justice being sacrificed for convenience?

Andrew Langdon QC, the new Chairman of the Bar, recently said that justice has a… Read more

November 11, 2016
No conviction is trivial – the flaw in online guilty pleas

Very few people in this country understand the implications of a criminal conviction until they… Read more

October 2, 2016
What court process is really in the best interest of witnesses?

No-one denies that the experience of giving evidence in a criminal trial can be traumatic,… Read more

March 20, 2016
The holy grail of the digital court

Judges and HMCTS staff seem to have put their faith in digitisation to resolve most… Read more

June 26, 2015
Is better IT the answer to courtroom chaos?

It was an interesting week for court reform.  The Lord Chancellor pronounced himself shocked by… Read more

July 5, 2013
are the courts prepared for no lawyers?

There have been hundreds of people appearing in courts without a lawyer for a long… Read more

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