The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, held his annual press conference on Tuesday 7 February 2023, at the Royal Courts of Justice.
In his opening remarks, Lord Burnett said: “Since we last met, an important focus for the judiciary has been to find ways to increase the rate at which cases are completed to help deal with the high volumes of work and outstanding caseloads across the courts and tribunals.
“The work of the Crown Court Improvement Group has brought together all the organisations involved in the Court process to identify and promulgate best practice, and to look carefully at their own practices to iron out inefficiencies. A new Better Case Management handbook was recently published together with a listing protocol. The fruits of all that work are being implemented. In the Family Courts the Public Law Outline initiative has launched, refocusing efforts on meeting the statutory 26-week target in care cases. Intensive work is underway in other areas of family work, in the tribunals and the County Court to increase the throughput of cases and reduce the number of hearings a case requires before it is finally resolved.
“There have also been significant steps in advancing transparency. The President of the Family Division has launched the pilot for press reporting in family cases. In the Crown Court, an increasing number of high-profile sentencing remarks have been broadcast from around the country. I am grateful for the part the media play in these developments, which I believe are important steps in upholding the principle of open justice and in achieving greater public awareness and understanding of the work of the Courts.
“That work continues this month with the launch of a new online course focusing on the ‘Rule of Law’ which is one of the features of this country’s system of government which underpins all civic and commercial activity. The course complements the intensive work done by hundreds of judges and magistrates in schools and in the community to foster understanding of the rule of law and the place of judges in upholding it.
“We continue our work both independently and through the Judicial Diversity Forum with the legal profession, the Judicial Appointments Commission and the Ministry of Justice to make the judiciary more reflective of the society we serve. Part of our work includes a drive to ensure the courts and tribunals provide an inclusive working environment together with an increasing focus on judicial welfare.
“The efficient and effective administration of justice is central to upholding the rule of law which, as I have said, underpins the smooth functioning of our economy and stability of society. For the Courts and Tribunals to perform their function effectively in the future there must be continued investment to address the problems of capacity we have experienced. All aspects of the system must be nurtured – people, infrastructure and systems – to ensure there are enough judges, lawyers and staff, and adequate buildings and IT infrastructure to hear cases promptly.
“The judges and magistrates in our courts and tribunals will continue to serve the public and strive to sustain the rule of law and administration of justice.”
- Read the transcript of the press conference below.