Bar Council responds to the Justice Select Committee's report 'Coronavirus (Covid-19): The impact on courts'
It is essential that investment in robust, high-quality technology and in the wider justice system, is addressed with the urgency it needs.
Amanda Pinto QC, Chair of the Bar, said: "This report rightly acknowledges the far-reaching impact that Covid-19 has had on the operation of the justice system, particularly on jury trials. It is crucial that access to justice for the public is at the heart of any next steps, and that proposals to help clear the backlogs in all jurisdictions are viewed through this lens.
"We share the JSC’s frustration over the availability and quality of data gathered by HMCTS on cases happening during the pandemic. We have asked for data for four months now, but been met with inexplicable reluctance.
"Without it, we cannot see the full picture. We know technology has played a huge part in how the justice system has adapted to the current crisis, but the right balance must be struck. Some cases and participants are not best served by remote hearings.
"When arranging hearings, this must be borne in mind in the interests of the public for whom being in court is often a life-altering event. We support further exploration of how witnesses and participants find the use of technology in their court cases. It is essential that investment in robust, high-quality technology and in the wider justice system, is addressed with the urgency it needs.”