Background to the report

In 2016, HMCTS launched an ambitious portfolio of reforms later brought together to form the courts and tribunals reform programme. It aims to modernise the justice system by reducing complexity and providing new ways for people to engage. HMCTS intends to achieve this by introducing new technology and working practices, moving activity out of the courtroom, streamlining processes and introducing online services.

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We have reported on the programme twice previously. Our last report in 2019 concluded that the programme’s timetable and scope remained ambitious despite HMCTS extending the programme’s end date by three years to December 2023. We stressed that HMCTS would need to manage the tension in delivering reformed services quickly without risking damage to existing and future services.

Scope of the report

A significant part of the programme’s success depends on how effectively HMCTS implements its new digital case management system for criminal courts, common platform. HMCTS expects the system to deliver a quarter of the programme’s estimated gross lifetime savings.

In this report, we examine:

  • HMCTS’s progress since 2019 (Part One)
  • whether HMCTS is rolling out common platform effectively (Part Two)
  • whether the reform programme is on course to achieve its expected benefits

As HMCTS has not yet completed the reform programme, we conclude on value for money risks.


Following repeated delays, HMCTS’s priority has been on delivering its reforms at pace rather than embedding sustainable change. Some services it has delivered are not working as efficiently as expected.

While it has improved plans to evaluate the impact of reforms on users, its understanding in this area remains limited. HMCTS must now focus on achieving the anticipated benefits of the reforms and prioritise remaining funding on maximising financial and wider benefits. Failure to do this effectively will pose a risk to value for money.

Of most concern is the case management system for criminal courts, common platform. While the system has undoubtedly improved since its initial rollout, remaining technical issues are creating inefficiencies and introducing risk to courts and the wider system. HMCTS must ensure that it works with users to address these issues.   


Publication details

Press release

View press release (23 Feb 2023)

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