In a comprehensive report published today, the House of Lords constitution committee said the backlog in the criminal courts has reached ‘crisis levels’ and the quality of justice is ‘increasingly at risk’ as witness memories fade over time.
It urged the government to provide enough funding to ensure that all cases in the Crown court are tried within one year of the plea and trial preparation hearing. It also backed plans to pilot remote jury trials as a further means of reducing the backlog.
On technology, the committee said a ‘paucity of data collection’ is undermining transparency and making it difficult to assess the impact of remote hearings on vulnerable court users, including whether technology is affecting case outcomes.
‘The impact of virtual hearings across the justice system remains fundamentally unclear in a number of respects, as insufficient data is being collected and analysed by HM Courts & Tribunals Service,’ it said. ‘Remote hearings are not appropriate in all cases or for all types of court users. Reduced face to face contact risks alienating litigants, as it can be difficult to conduct remote hearings with an appropriate level of empathy and humanity in sensitive cases.’
For full article https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/neither-acceptable-nor-inevitable-peers-give-verdict-on-covid-courts/5107990.article?utm_source=gazette_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Fake+signature+trainee+appeals+ban+%7c+Peers%27+verdict+on+Covid+courts+%7c+Digital+transformation+supplement_03%2f30%2f2021