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Tuesday, 30 October 2018 12:48

"MoJ was warned about court reform risks in 2016"

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Management consultants asked to conduct an independent review of the government's ambitious court reform programme warned the lord chancellor in 2016 that the reforms would fail unless specific risks were tackled, the Gazette has learned.

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) prepared a report for then justice secretary Michael Gove in February 2016 following a 'rapid five-week exercise'. The Ministry of Justice has decided to release the report, which was presented internally, after receiving a freedom of information request. The Gazette has learned that the FoI request was made by Transform Justice director Penelope Gibbs, who has persistently been trying to get hold of it for the past two years.

In the report, BCG said the 'breadth of ambition' of the HMCTS reforms 'is unmatched anywhere in the world' and warned that the four-year timetable was overly optimistic, highlighting court reform challenges in other countries. In the Netherlands, e-registry and integrated case management should have been rolled out between 2011 and 2017, but the timetable was extended to 2023. In Denmark, pilots of an integrated court-agency case management system failed.

BCG highlighted a 'paucity of data' to understand the system's users: 'Not enough is known about their precise needs and their legitimate expectations of the justice system... there are gaps especially in the understanding of the digital literacy and likely digital uptake of court users, with a risk that the ambition is too heavily premised on users wanting to move to digital channels, particularly in the criminal system.'

The consultants also worried about the lack of contingency funding, telling Gove that they would typically expect to see 15-30% of resource costs as a contingency for such a programme.

However, the biggest risk to the programme's overall success was the governance structures and culture surrounding the project. Only one out of 10 meetings between the MoJ and HM Courts & Tribunals Service was successful, one interviewee said.

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Read 21 times Last modified on Friday, 23 November 2018 12:56
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