1 July 2022

3:1- Single Justice Procedure

On 16 May the SPJ wrote to all magistrates announcing that following Proofs of Concepts in Lavender Hill and Leamington Spa, HMCTS would begin to roll out a new operating model in Single Justice Procedure (SJP) cases.

Magistrates will work together with the legal adviser available in the same court building and accessible on the phone or by MS Teams. Magistrates will decide cases and result them directly onto Common Platform. Advice will only be given if requested; a distinct and PCS maintain dangerous move away from the current position where our members currently give advice on all matters of law practice, procedure, evidence and sentencing irrespective of whether such advice is sought and have a duty to ensure all whose cases come before the courts have a fair hearing.  

Absence of Consultation 

Despite the potential for significant loss of legal adviser roles and for a significant increase in workload as a result of magistrates determining sufficiency of evidence and lawfulness and consistency of sentence, HMCTS has not consulted with PCS regarding the proposals as its own policies require. One of the reasons that PCS is in dispute with the employer over the Common Platform  (CP) is due to the woeful absence of timely and meaningful consultation.  

 So called consultation has been limited to an opportunity to ask questions at a meeting. PCS advised the employer they must consult with the DTUS Crime sub-committee due to the various impacts. No such consultation has been offered let alone taken place. A meeting that PCS understood was to start the discussions was used by HMCTS to talk about future CP functionality. No other meetings have been offered. HMCTS is more interested in pursuing executive action in breach of the Common Platform dispute and rolling out Common Platform with no consideration of the detrimental impacts it is aware from its own survey it is having on members. 

Further Testing 

HMCTS has been unable to demonstrate any benefit from the model. PCS does not see the removal of our members roles, their further deskilling,  an increase in workload or decisions being made about people’s lives without legal advice as being a benefit. 

Next steps 

Until this announcement it had not been thought that this element of CP would impact on jobs. Now that it is clear that jobs are impacted this process will now be brought into the dispute process