All criminal courts will be able to operate completely digitally by July 2016, according to Criminal Justice Minister Damian Green. The new “digital business model” was unveiled in April at Bromley Magistrates’ Court, the first to receive the wi-fi upgrade under new funding of £75m a year, in addition to £44m already budgeted for new IT programmes.
Family court revolution
April saw in the new combined family courts, 26-week time frames for children in care cases and compulsory mediation awareness. Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, said it marked “the largest reform of the family justice system any of us will see in our professional lifetimes... truly a cultural revolution.”
Fee-charging McKenzie Friends should be recognised as a “legitimate feature of the evolving legal services market”, according to the Legal Services Consumer Panel. Its study identified the growing market following the LASPO changes, with some providing legal advice and seeking right of audience in an individual case. Despite some evidence about poor courtroom and commercial practices, the Panel concluded that the access to justice benefits outweighed the risks and called on the sector “to develop a credible system of self-regulation to earn greater trust from judges, the legal profession and the general public alike”.