HMCTS offers up to £130k for next chief exec

Campaign comes more than a year after Susan Acland-Hood became DfE perm sec
Photo: Clara Molden/PA

By Jim Dunton

25 Nov 2021

HM Courts and Tribunals Service has launched a recruitment campaign to find a permanent chief executive and is offering up to £130,000 a year for the right external candidate.

Kevin Sadler has served as acting chief exec at the Ministry of Justice executive agency since Susan Acland-Hood moved to the Department for Education in August last year at the height of the exams fiasco. She went on to become DfE perm sec later in the year.

Acland-Hood’s salary as chief exec was bracketed at £130,00-£135,000 a year in HMCTS’s annual report and accounts for 2019-20. Sadler’s pay is betwen £120,000 and £125,000, according to the 2020-21 report and accounts.

The just-launched campaign describes the chief exec role as “no ordinary CEO appointment” and specifies that an “outstanding individual” with the ability to inspire staff, build engagement and capability to deliver results is required.

The candidate pack for the job – which is open to applications until 11.55pm on 12 December  – acknowledges that Covid-19 has hit HMCTS with “unprecedented challenges” and led to “increased levels of outstanding cases across almost all jurisdictions”.

Last month the National Audit Office said the MoJ expected the level of backlogs in crown court cases to be significant for “several years”. It warned of the potential for higher rates of witnesses withdrawing from proceedings and greater numbers of cases collapsing as a result.

The candidate pack also refers to the HMCTS reform programme, which was launched five years ago and is “now into its two final years”, according to the service.

“Integration of systems and implementation of reform projects are now significant areas of work,” would-be applicants are told. “It is vital to keep the programme on track – in budget, on time, and achieving its objectives.”

However, it cautions: “The difficulties of doing so should not be underestimated in a programme of this scale and complexity and at the same time as maintaining the standard of operation in courts and tribunals while they are working at maximum capacity to recover from the impacts of Covid.”

Earlier this month the PCS union said the Common Platform IT system, which is part of the reforms, was not fit for purpose and sending stress and anxiety levels among court staff “through the roof”. It is currently balloting members on their feelings about the system and said future industrial action was an option.

In her foreword to the chief exec candidate pack, MoJ permanent secretary Antonia Romeo said there had “never been a more important time” to join her team.

“As well as playing a vital role in the overall leadership of MoJ, the HMCTS chief executive is responsible for the day-to-day operations and administration of the agency, to deliver the highest quality services within a complex business environment, and for the leadership of 16,500 staff,” she said.

“We are collaborative in how we work with each other across the department and all our agencies, and all our staff are continually building expertise which will be critical to all areas of MoJ’s work.”

The job advert says the successful applicant could work from MoJ locations nationwide, with London, Leeds and Cardiff given as options.

This week HMCTS announced it would open a new service centre in Newport, south Wales, which will be the fifth such centre since 2019, as part of the service’s reform programme.

It said the base would be ready for occupation next May. It joins operational service centres in Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Loughborough and Salford.

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