The Magistrates’ Courts manage over 1 million court cases every year in England and Wales which are handled by three key groups of people: Legal advisors, the judiciary and teams of administrators, and each case has at least one document. So Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) wanted to develop a new service, a digital system that would truly help these users. This service would be designed to enable all of the users to access the right information at the right time, when and where they needed it. The key was to move away from a paper-based system towards a modern digital solution, but it also needed to be scalable to meet changes in user numbers and case load. Flexible to meet changing needs and processes. And, it had to be accessible. So how would HMCTS achieve this for the Courts Service? As one of the first projects to adopt the ‘Digital by Default’ approach they followed the service standards set out by UK Government. Key to the success of the whole project was ensuring that the focus remained on user needs throughout the development. As these needs were understood steps were taken to identify the right partners to work collaboratively to build a re-usable open source service using an agile, iterative and user-centric approach. Court Store and Bench Solution.
Together, the partners built a scaled system to completely test and prove the end-to-end service in a live environment. It was then piloted in 40 Magistrates’ Courts across England and Wales. Once this pilot phase was complete the system was successfully rolled out nationally to an additional 185 Magistrates courts and over 8000 users enabling the Magistrates to manage their caseloads more efficiently. This is how it works: The Crown Prosecution Service provides the Initial Details of the Prosecution Case via secure email to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service which is added to Court Store.
Any other case materials can then be added, either digitally or by being scanned.
The date, time and location of the hearing is then created within Court Store.
All relevant information is now digitally available to users during the proceedings: Administrators can search quickly and efficiently to find the case information, legal advisors have all the documents they need and the magistrates can access all materials via the Bench Solution dashboard.
Court Store also provides the 59 Crown Courts with access to documents, allowing relevant information to be retrieved for Crown Court proceedings.
Court Store and Bench, a nationwide Digital by Default solution delivering the right information, at the right time, easing workflow and giving users the ability to make informed decisions and all without reams and reams of paper.