There is a global trend towards the adoption of digital ways of working in justice systems. Working to shorter timescales than smaller digitalisation programmes undertaken in other countries, the UK’s ongoing digital transformation of courts and tribunals is particularly ambitious.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has served to accelerate this work and has brought to the fore issues of digital exclusion that can be generated by the digitalisation of justice systems.

Consequently, support to help digitally excluded court users to navigate these reformed online services (‘Digital Support’) will have to be delivered on a large scale and at serious pace.

Using a combination of publicly available data, information gathered through FOIA requests and the HMCTS Digital Inclusion team, and supported by engagement with a Digital Support centre, this report explores how the delivery of Digital Support is progressing.

Jo Hynes, Research Fellow in Online Courts said: “Digital Support is an integral part of a fair justice system and a backbone of the HMCTS reform agenda, yet it remains relatively obscure compared to other aspects of the reform programme.

“Our report foregrounds this vital service at an important moment: the pilot’s transition into a national service. We evaluate how well it is meeting the significant challenge of preventing digital exclusion across reformed services and seek to re-ignite a dialogue on the direction of Digital Support.”

Read: Digital support for HMCTS reformed services: What we know and what we need to know