Union to ballot courts staff over “flawed” new HMCTS case management system amid concern at potential job losses

Union members are voting on their support for the continued use of HMCTS's newly implemented case management system amid claims from  that the platform is causing stress and delays for legal professionals.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) began balloting its court staff members last Monday (15 November) on the use of the system, the Common Platform, and whether they support the union in its demands for proper health and safety checks.

Union representatives said work-related stress and anxiety levels had surged as a result of using the platform.

In addition, PCS has accused HMCTS of failing in its legal duty to carry out an organisational risk assessment.

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The Common Platform is advertised by HMCTS as a system which allows parties - including the judiciary, solicitors and barristers, the Crown Prosecution Service and court staff to access case information - via a single system.

According to HMCTS, the system cuts down the need for manual document handling and improves how criminal cases are accessed, managed and processed.

HMCTS initially rolled the system out to a number of early adopter courts. Following this trial stage, HMCTS committed to plans which will see the platform used in 200 criminal courts across England and Wales by the end of the year.

However, PCS argue the platform has been beset by technical problems and delays since its introduction in September, and has slowed the progress of cases.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said HMCTS had launched a system which is "not fit for purpose and has caused staff huge levels of stress and anxiety".

Mr Serwotka added: "Instead of dealing with the real problems in the justice system, such as staff shortages and court closures, they are relying on a flawed system to muddle through.

"This won't wash with the thousands of our members who are set to lose their jobs because of the Common Platform. They have had enough and will now have their voice heard.

"Depending on the result of the consultative ballot, we will not rule out an industrial action ballot in the future."

An HMCTS spokesperson said the service is committed to working with staff and unions on the platform's rollout and that it did not recognise the number of job losses quoted.

HMCTS added: "The welfare of our staff is a priority and they have been involved from the start in designing and implementing a system that will revolutionise the way that the criminal justice system is administered."

The ballot opened on Monday 15 November and will run until December 2.

Adam Carey

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