Government plans for online courts threaten principles of open justice
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"Government plans for online courts will lead to more unrepresented defendants, challenge the principle of open justice and could make it too easy for defendants to plead guilty, according to a legal thinktank.
A report by the charity Transform Justice published on Wednesday warns that the Ministry of Justices £1bn court reform programme contains digital trial proposals that may confuse anyone entering a plea."
See: Government's £1bn plan for online courts 'challenges open justice' (The Guardian, link)
And the report by Transform Justice: Briefing on the Prisons and Courts Bill (link to pdf):
"The move to online and virtual justice threatens to significantly increase the number of unrepresented defendants, to further discriminate against vulnerable defendants, to inhibit the relationship between defence lawyers and their clients, and to make justice less open"
The plans are part of the Prison and Courts Bill, currently before the House of Commons. See: Prisons and Courts Bill 2016-17 (www.parliament.uk, link)
Official documentation on digital courts plans (pdfs)
- Automatic online convictions and standard statutory penalty
- Online Procedure and Online Procedure Rules Committee
- Video-links and virtual hearings
- Open justice
Further fact sheets are available: Prisons and Courts Bill: fact sheets (gov.uk, link)
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