DCA launches unified courts agency

The Department for Constituttional Affairs today launches a single unified agency, Her Majesty’s Courts Service (HMCS), to run the UK’s court system.

The agency brings together all of England and Wales’ 650 Crown, county and magistrates’ courts for administrative purposes. Previously magistrates’ courts were managed by 42 local committees, whereas the Court Service administered the Court of Appeal, High Court and all Crown and county courts.

HMCS will be working with a total of 30,000 judges and magistrates. Local Courts Boards will scrutinise and review local courts, included how service for local users can be improved.

The cost of establishing HMCS is expected to be £45m over three years, but the annual budget is likely to settle at £20m.

Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, said that the new agency will ensure more uniformity across all courts.