Select Committee on the Constitution
COVID-19 and the Courts

22nd Report of Session 2019-21 - published 30 March 2021 - HL Paper 257



Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Impact of the pandemic on the justice system

The resilience of the justice system

Government funding

Figure 1: HM Courts and Tribunals Service funding and expenditure, change compared to 2010/11 in real terms

Figure 2: Annual legal aid expenditure, change compared to 2010/11 in real terms

Delayed digital transformation

HMCTS risk assessments

Operation of courts and tribunals during the pandemic

Box 1: COVID-19 and the courts—a timeline

Move to remote justice

Figure 3: Number of case hearings per week, by the method conducted, March 2020–January 2021

Figure 4: Audio and video cases as a proportion of all hearings, March 2020–January 2021

Uneven impact

Inadequate court IT

Access to justice

Fair, accessible and effective hearings

Legal advice and representation

Open justice

Chapter 3: Managing the backlog

The criminal justice system

The Crown Court

Figure 5: Outstanding cases in the Crown Court

Magistrates’ courts

Figure 6: Outstanding cases in magistrates’ courts

Pre-trial detention

Civil courts and tribunals

The family courts

Figure 7: Outstanding cases in the family courts (public law and private law combined)

The Employment Tribunal

Figure 8: Outstanding cases in the Employment Tribunal (multiple and single claims combined)

Housing possession claims

Government response to the backlog

Criticisms of Government efforts

Further action to address the backlog

Increasing court time

Greater use of technology

Altering juries of twelve

Alternative dispute resolution

Data-driven solutions

Chapter 4: Data in the courts system

A long-standing issue

Courts data during the pandemic

Data collection and publication

Experiences of non-professional users

Protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010

Remote hearings’ influence on case outcomes

Chapter 5: Technology and the future of the justice system

Future use of remote hearings

Summary of conclusions and recommendations

Appendix 1: List of Members and declarations of interest

Appendix 2: List of witnesses

Appendix 3: Call for evidence

Evidence is published online at and available for inspection at the Parliamentary Archives (020 7219 3074).

Q in footnotes refers to a question in oral evidence.

© Parliamentary copyright 2021