For those who have not already stumbled across it, a reminder that the Ministry of Justice has an open call for evidence entitled ‘Open Justice, the Way Forward.” As the introduction states:
We have not undertaken a public consultation on open justice since 2012. Since that time, the justice system has undergone a period of modernisation, with the HMCTS Reform Programme central to this transformation. Digitisation of the justice system presents both opportunities and risks for open justice and raises important questions on the balance between openness and privacy. As the justice system modernises, we must examine how open justice continues to be upheld, and furthermore, ensure we are advancing open justice in a way that will meet the rising expectation to access justice in a more modern and digitised way.
In 2022, the Justice Select Committee (JSC) began an inquiry examining the effects of digitisation on the courts, the media and open justice. This concluded with the publication of its report – Court Reporting in the Digital Age. The JSC report produced a series of recommendations concerning topics such as published listings, broadcasting, remote observation, access to court documents and the publication of judgments.
The contents of this call for evidence cover many of the issues raised in the JSC report; however, we have expanded our focus beyond court reporting to include open justice matters which affect all members of the public. This includes issues across jurisdictions, HMCTS services, within legislation, throughout public legal education, and on access to data and information. We are examining these topics as they impact on open justice and transparency, and all have undergone a period of change and modernisation over the last decade. The evidence gathered across these areas will help us develop new guidance, inform open justice policy, and enhance current and future service development.
Furthermore, we want to use the opportunity to broaden engagement beyond our traditional stakeholders and gather as much information, as much data, and as many perspectives as possible. We want to hear from all interested parties, including the judiciary, legal professionals, the media, businesses, academics, law and technology experts and our court and tribunal users on how you think the government can uphold and strengthen open justice in the modern age.
This call for evidence will form part of a range of methods we will use to engage with the public on open justice issues. We will consider all evidence submitted to this review and from this identify where government intervention may be effective and inform where we should prioritise our limited resources.
The call for evidence is open until 7 September 2023, with responses to be sent by email to: email@example.com.