Following on from my article recently on the speech given by Sir Terence Etherton, Master of the Rolls, in June, where he laid out the plans and rationale for the new Online Solutions, I would like to take a look at what the enforcement industry needs to do to be ready for this change.
Whilst I am an authorised High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO), and have been for many years, I am also a Microsoft certified systems engineer (MCSE).
Whilst enforcement and IT are not areas of expertise normally acquired together, it does give me a strong interest in the Online Court and how this can revolutionise efficacy and user experience for claimants and all civil court users. The plans for the Online Court aim to create a joined-up process where case files are initiated, handled and shared in an online environment. There will be less need for physical hearings, and where this is required, all the information will be easily located online – no more court delays because of case files lost in transit or a certain piece of information has gone missing.
I totally agree that this is the right way to go (although I would suggest that this move is happening far later than it should have).
What also needs to be taken into account, which is to a degree in LJ Briggs report of recommendations for the Online Court, is also the enforcement of judgments. In the case of judgment enforcement in the High Court, there is already an online system in place to allocate writs, which is run by the Registry Trust.
This grew out of the earlier NICESheriffs (National Information Centre for Enforcement) and I was involved in its design, build and deployment, with my systems engineer hat on.
Most, if not all, HCEO firms offer online case management where information is available to the claimant, the defendant and the enforcement agent. Many of those companies’ websites also accept instruction via a secure and encrypted online form.
The establishment of the technology needed to deliver the Online Court is now mean feat, but the High Court enforcement industry is ready to connect with and embrace that from the outset.