Rapid Consultation: The impact of COVID-19 measures on the civil justice system

Rapid Consultation: The impact of COVID-19 measures on the civil justice system

The Civil Justice Council has asked Dr Natalie Byrom, Director of Research at The Legal Education Foundation to lead an independent consultation on changes to the civil justice system developed in response to COVID-19


The measures put in place to tackle the spread of COVID-19 have resulted in significant changes in the operation of the civil justice system, including the expansion of the use of remote hearings. It is unknown for how much longer these measures will continue. The Civil Justice Council (CJC) therefore considers it important and timely to gather practical feedback on the impact of these changes. This feedback will be used to inform any further guidance that is issued and identify areas where additional work may be needed.

About the consultation

The consultation will run for two weeks from Friday 1st May to Friday 15th May in order to report by 22nd May 2020. The consultation will provide an overview of the operation of current measures and offer practical recommendations to inform the ongoing response to COVID.

The Master of the Rolls, Head of Civil Justice and Chairman of the Civil Justice Council said:
“It is essential that we quickly understand how court users are being affected by the widespread changes adopted by the civil justice system in response to COVID-19. This review is a chance for users to give feedback on how the changes are impacting them and to suggest areas of improvement. The feedback collected by this review will be invaluable in shaping the way forward for the civil justice system, both immediately and in the longer term.”

The consultation is particularly interested in gathering feedback from court users in response to the following questions:

  • What is working well about the current arrangements?
  • Which types of cases are most suited to which type of hearings and why?
  • How does the experience of remote hearings vary depending on the platform that is used?
  • What technology is needed to make remote hearings successful?
  • What difference does party location make to the experience of the hearing?
  • How do remote hearings impact on the ability of representatives to communicate with their clients?
  • How do professional court users and litigants feel about remote hearings?
  • How do litigants in person experience hearings that are conducted remotely?
  • How do remote hearings impact on perceptions of the justice system by those who are users of it?
  • How is practice varying across different geographical regions?
  • What has been the impact of current arrangements on open justice?

How to get involved

There are three ways to take part in the consultation:

  1. Submit material to the literature review: The consultation will review existing published accounts of the experience of civil court users during this time. If you or your organisation have published any relevant material (guidance, blog posts, opinion pieces), or if you have findings from a survey you would be happy to share, please email: consultation@theLEF.org

  2. Complete the survey on the experience of remote hearings: The Civil Justice Council has a particular interest in understanding the experience of court users who have participated in a remote hearing since 19 March 2020. If you have participated in, or observed, a remote hearing since 19th March, please follow this link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CJC_CovidReview to complete this survey.

    Due to the considerable pressures on judicial and court staff time, at the request of the Master of the Rolls, this survey is focussed on court users; the equally valuable experience of judiciary and court staff will be gathered and taken into account, but they are not required to complete this survey.

  3. Join the remote consultation meeting: A virtual consultation meeting will be held on the 11th May- further information and joining instructions will be issued in due course.

If you have any other feedback you would like to raise, or would prefer to contribute by email or telephone please email: consultation@theLEF.org. Follow the hashtag #CJCcovid on Twitter and LinkedIn for updates.

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