UK Courts face case backlog due to "not-fit-for-purpose" IT

Reports of cases being disrupted due to inadequate technological infrastructure

An issue with court IT systems left some cases across the UK unable to progress on Thursday.

Trials have been adjourned in London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, York and more because evidence stored on the court system could not be accessed.

Chris Henley QC, who chairs the CBA, told the BBC the computer systems used by the courts were "crumbling".

"Barristers and judges are growing very tired of cases being disrupted because of inadequate technological infrastructure," he said.

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The Criminal Bar Association said the Digital Case System had not been working in some areas, but on Twitter, The Secret Barrister posted a damning message with a list of the courts affected.

"Crown Courts across the country grind to a halt "again" due to the not-fit-for-purpose IT infrastructure produced by @HMTSgovuk and @MoJGovUK. Again - accountability. There's none of it. People's lives and liberties depend on a functioning criminal justice system."

The "again" portion of the tweet refers to a larger computer problem reported in January where courts were unable to access their systems for several days. A number of lawyers and practitioners told the Law Society Gazette that the systems were preventing cases from being processed and were also disrupting payments as lawyers couldn't log their attendance.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said that the latest problem is different from what happened in January and that it had been resolved. But the MoJ has previously been accused of cutting corners with its IT upgrades.

In July, MPs warned that the MoJ risked botching its 1.2 billion digital transformation of the UK's court systems by driving through changes without fully understanding the impact on users and the justice system more widely.

The 1.2 billion project, which also involved centralising customer services and closing down a handful of courts, started in 2016 with the aim of modernising aspects of the justice system by implementing new technologies and working practices.

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