Justice Committee’s Inquiry on Open Justice: Court Reporting in the Digital Age: November 2021

10 October, 2022 | 1 minute read


a. The government should be urged to accept, and give effect to, bold open justice commitments in its forthcoming National Action Plan through the Open Government Partnership.

b. There needs to be an enhanced listing service that provides unrestricted public access to advance, sufficiently detailed court listings and information about reporting restrictions.

c. Noting the Serious Fraud Office’s court calendar, other law enforcement agencies should consider publishing a calendar of upcoming hearings when they have been listed.

d. Continued investment in and development of remote hearings during and after the pandemic, and technical solutions to support observers in remote hearings to access case documents.

e. Closer ongoing coordination between the Ministry of Justice, HMCTS, the judiciary and legal supervisory bodies to ensure that they consistently apply the open justice principle.

f. Greater ambition on a public database that includes skeleton arguments and other court documents, suitably redacted and filtered to allow for rehabilitation and privacy.

g. There needs to be a model that delivers free and comprehensive access to all case law in a structured and machine-readable format. To that end, we support the government’s proposal for The National Archives to be responsible for storing and publishing case law.

h. Careful work is needed to develop a system that retains and provides access to sentencing remarks, addressing the tension between rehabilitation and open justice.

i. Consideration of the ways in which court transcripts can be made cheaper and more easily accessible for litigants and non-parties, and the piloting of digital transcription services.

j. The Senior Data Governance Panel should be placed on a statutory footing with clear terms of reference and a public mandate, and a transparent recruitment process for civil society.

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