Court reform and transparency

 

What’s the issue?

It is notoriously hard to access documents from courts in England and Wales. It can even be hard to find out when a trial is taking place. This makes monitoring how justice is done in the UK very difficult. Economic crime cases can take many months to come to trial, wasting precious public resources and undermining confidence in the enforcement bodies.

The announcement of a new economic crime court in the government’s Economic Crime Plan for 2019-2022 is a major opportunity to rethink how the court system in England and Wales deals with economic crime cases.

What does Spotlight on Corruption do?

  • We work to ensure that economic crime cases are subject to proper public scrutiny

  • We advocate for a comprehensive public database of court documents, that captures all judgements and sentencing remarks and key documents relating to a trial, and a more effective court listing system

  • We want to ensure that the new economic crime court means that economic trial cases are heard in a timely manner, and both criminal and civil law routes are used by law enforcement most effectively to complement each other

Our work builds on that done by Corruption Watch on open justice for economic crime cases.

Our resources

Courts, Covid and Open Justice: A Timeline – June 2020

A timeline of key developments, announcements, and evaluations relating to open justice in the UK courts during Covid-19.

Can the criminal courts be safely observed during Covid to maintain open justice? – May 2020

As jury trials resume, how safe will the public feel to travel to observe them and if they don’t is open justice being upheld?

Towards a national commitment on open justice data in the United Kingdom – October 2019

Report by Dr Judith Townend commissioned Spotlight on Corruption and the Open Government Network to develop a series of recommendations for the next UK government Open Government Partnership National Action Plan on improving open justice data. A blog by Dr Townend on the report is here.

Veil of secrecy: Is the fight against corruption being undermined by a lack of open justice? – July 2018

Corruption Watch report by Rahul Rose identifies a number of areas where open justice is lacking in economic crime cases, and makes a series of recommendations to increase court transparency and transparency in enforcement of these cases.