HMCTS – Recovery Plan Civil and Family Courts and Tribunal
Exec Member Sara Gibbs updates members the courts recovery plan
On 9 November 2020, the courts produced a detailed plan setting out how they intend to restore service levels and address the backlog of cases, which has built up during lockdown.
The courts followed this with a webinar event on 2 December, giving an overview and an update on the recovery plans for the civil, family and tribunals jurisdictions. More than 500 people attended the webinar, including representatives of SCIL.
The main speakers at the event were:
- Ben Burke-Davies, Senior Project Manager, CFT Recovery
- Simon Vowles, Deputy Director, Civil
- Adam Lennon, Deputy Director, Family
- Daniel Flury, Deputy Director, Tribunals
- Will Breame, Senior Project Manager, HMCTS COVID-19 response team
The courts are focusing on five key ‘pillars’ of recovery:
- Maximising the capacity of the judiciary to sit as many sitting days as possible;
- Increasing the number of staff to support delivery of court services;
- Re-opening court room capacity;
- Ensuring remote hearings continue to be effectively supported with increased staff levels and guidance for users;
- Reducing the time it takes to process cases by using and increasing on line services, and piloting new approaches.
- The focus has been on recovering court capacity to process claims and hear cases;
- Fast and Multi track hearings are now getting back to pre-COVID levels;
- The backlog of cases waiting to be listed has decreased;
- Courts want to increase services on line and to work more digitally;
- Unspecified claims can now be issued digitally following a successful pilot;
- The Probate service also has increased its online service and digital case management service.
- There are efforts to have pre-resolution hearings and to increase the use of mediation to avoid Trials
Remote Hearings and CVP (Cloud Video Platform)
Remote Hearings have been ‘successful’, but it is for the Judge to decide on the format of a Hearing. We are however likely to see an increased number of remote Hearings in the future. CVP is now more reliable following a serve upgrade and it is no longer necessary to download software to use.
56- Day extensions
The Civil Procedure Rules Committee decided in October that there was no justification to continue with the practice of 56-day extensions, as court capacity has improved and is returning to pre-Pandemic levels. The 28- day extension rules are back in force.