This business plan covers a year that will see significant change. In that context, the role of the Judicial Office in supporting and advising the judiciary becomes ever more important.
HMCTS reform is well underway, with the detailed business plan approved by HM Treasury. The first, tangible steps of reform are being put in place in both the IT and estates elements of the programme. In the first months of 2017, the Judicial Office ran a series of masterclasses to support the judicial leadership of reform. Over the course of this financial year we will need to ensure continued judicial leadership of the programme and widen and deepen judicial engagement in reform.
We are now in the midst of a series of recruitment exercises that are seeking to appoint an unprecedented number of judges at all levels. We need to support the Judicial Appointments Commission in completing these exercises, and then train and deploy the new judges who are appointed. Looking ahead, we must put the recruitment timetable back on a stable footing, ensure the processes are fit for purpose and provide a genuinely level playing field for all applicants.
To retain our current judges and to attract the brightest and the best lawyers to the judiciary, it will be vital to tackle issues that have adversely affected judicial morale. Pay, pensions and judicial working conditions are the priority. Other important issues affecting judges and magistrates, including estates and IT problems, are being addressed through HMCTS reform. We must also work with the Government to address areas of excessive workload and a lack of administrative support. In addition, both the Government and the public must better understand the enormous contribution judges and magistrates make every day and the difficult work they undertake.
The judiciary has a central role to play in maintaining the pre-eminence of English law internationally and of England and Wales as a centre for international dispute resolution. This is particularly so given the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. We will also need to understand the implications for the judiciary, the courts and tribunals, so that justice continues to be administered effectively.
The work of the Judicial Office is hugely important as we take forward this agenda together, modernising the justice system and strengthening the judiciary. At the same time, the delivery of justice must continue and the independence of the judiciary be protected. We express our sincere thanks, on behalf of the wider judiciary, to all Judicial Office staff.
Rt.Hon. Lord Thomas
Lord Chief Justice
Rt.Hon. Sir Ernest Ryder
Senior President of Tribunals
Judicial Office Business Plan 2017-18
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