Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
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Government response to Court Capacity report published

The Justice Committee publishes the Government’s response to its report into Court Capacity.

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In its report, published in April, the cross-party Committee called for a renewed focus on tackling backlogs of cases in criminal, civil and family courts.

The Committee found that while the build-up of cases could be partly attributed to disruption from the pandemic, long-term staffing issues in the judiciary and HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) played a significant factor. Another issue has been a failure to address maintenance issues in the physical court estate.

The Committee’s report made a number of recommendations, including for ministers to re-establish a Courts Inspectorate, tasked with undertaking inspections of all courts, examining data and making recommendations to improve policy.

It called on the Government to work with the Judiciary and Judicial Appointments Commission to deal with a shortage of judges, and to ensure pay levels in HMCTS are equal to similar roles in other government departments. Other recommendations included producing a properly funded, multi-year programme of works for court building maintenance, and for improved data collection and processing so that emerging trends in caseloads can be identified and understood.

The Government’s response to the report’s conclusions and recommendations is attached.

It states that ministers are “committed to further considering” a Coroner Service Inspectorate, and will “continue to seek further funding” to improve the condition of the court and tribunal estate. It also argues that staffing capacity in the judiciary has been addressed through pension reforms, increasing the retirement age to 75, and loosening certain working restrictions.

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