HMCTS pushes Common Platform rollout deadline back by another year

HMCTS chief reveals parts of the case-management system rollout will be delayed until 2025
Crown Court building in Cambridge. Photo: Alistair Laming/Alamy

By Tevye Markson

16 May 2023

The controversial Common Platform case-management system will take a year longer to implement than HM Courts and Tribunals Service previously stated, its chief exec has said.

Nick Goodwin has issued a correction after previously telling MPs that the rollout of the digital service would be completed by March 2024.

Goodwin told the Public Accounts Committee in March that the rollout was being extended by a year beyond its March 2023 target to allow for some crown courts to avoid disrupting efforts to reduce the current backlog in hearings.

He has now updated the committee in a letter stating that some aspects of the system will not be implemented until March 2025.

“I recently wrote to you on 17 March 2023 about delivering the final phase of the HMCTS Reform Programme, and spoke to you in person about the same at the Public Accounts Committee session on 30 March 2023,” Goodwin said in the letter.

“I wanted to write to correct a detail I gave to the committee at the hearing relating to the next phase of the Common Platform criminal case-management system.

“At the hearing, I stated that our revised plan ensures that the rollout of Common Platform, including all core functionality, will be completed by March 2024.

“While it is correct that all core functionality will be delivered by this date, there will be two further releases that significantly impact crown court processes and ways of working that will not be fully rolled out until March 2025.”

Goodwin said this will allow HMCTS to “complete the rigorous testing we need with our justice partners before we commence a measured rollout of these processes, to ensure we protect recovery within the crown courts".

“Common Platform remains fundamental to modernising the criminal court system and will bring justice partners together in a way that has never been done before,” he added.

Common Platform was initially supposed to be rolled out in all magistrates and crown courts by the end of March – with a contingency plan in place to extend this to December if needed.

The case-management system, which is a major part of HMCTS’s reform programme, has been beset by delays due to development issues, the Covid-19 pandemic and technical issues – such as the system failing to send important notifications.

PCS has repeatedly raised concerns about the system, which it says has caused an “alarming increase in reports of stress and anxiety and long working” among staff since it began being rolled out in September 2020.

Legal advisers and court associates ended months of strikes over the platform in March after HMCTS promised to take action to combat this stress and anxiety, and to give legal advisers and court associates autonomy in deciding which cases are inputted out of court.

However, PCS has not ended its campaign for the platform to be scrapped.

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