Digitising divorce applications could save 13,000 hours of court staff time

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Finally the court service is starting to move with the times and embracing technology to make life easier for everyone regarding divorce applications. Watch this space for when the pilot scheme is made available nationwide and for any update regarding the long awaited no fault divorce which resolution lawyers have spent years campaigning for.

Enabling people to apply for a divorce online could eliminate up to 13,000 hours of time spent by court staff checking divorce petitions, a senior civil servant responsible for several family justice reforms predicts.

Adam Lennon, head of family modernisation and improvement at HM Courts & Tribunals Service, told a Westminster Legal Policy Forum today that he did not believe it was right that getting a divorce ‘should be determined by the need to copy text from one document to another – both of which the court has right in front of them in any event’.

Lennon spent the first of his 15 years in the courts service issuing divorce petitions. He returned an estimated four out of every 10 petitions to the applicant because of an error. ‘In many cases, applicants and their legal representatives were not able to accurately copy word-for-word the place of marriage from the marriage certificate,’ he recalled.

Lennon estimates that court staff spend about 13,000 hours ‘doing nothing than checking and returning divorce petitions to people. The value that they add is very little’.

The forum heard that HMCTS has adopted an ‘agile’ approach to digitising the divorce service, which has enabled the agency ‘to react to change rather than having to pay a contractor to change what we have already paid for’. Digital prototypes were tested with ‘real users’ every two weeks. HMCTS initially piloted a scheme last year enabling people to apply for a divorce online, print off the form and send it to court. The service has been extended so that people can submit a form, send relevant documents and make payments.

Read the full article on The Law Gazette’s website.

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