The government has confirmed that an online service to process care and supervision applications in public family law cases will resume on 14 September.
The service, which had begun to roll out across England and Wales at the start of the year, was halted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The platform aims to improve the court process for these cases and ensure the best outcomes for children through six digital tools:
- allowing local authorities to create new digital applications for care supervision and Emergency Protection Orders
- enabling cases to be progressed by the court, legal professionals, local authorities and judiciary in a timely manner
- giving legal professionals, including parents’ solicitors and Cafcass the ability to access cases digitally and view tasks that need to be completed before a hearing
- allowing court users to see the status of their case and to progress it online
- enabling court users to upload and access documents and evidence digitally
- enables documents and evidence to be added to case and court bundles which can be uploaded, annotated, presented in court and used in the hearings.
An online seminar on the rollout hosted by Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) was held in January, which confirmed that councils would need to upload every document relating to a child’s case onto the portal once it was operational.
Emma Petty, the Service Manager for the HMCTS reform project, said, “It’s really important to treat that case management system they have access to as the digital file, and have all of the information in the one place that everyone can access.”
Ms Petty was responding to a series of questions posed by Researching Reform at the seminar. When asked about whether cases would be vetted to see if they were appropriate, Ms Petty said there would be “an element of validation” to the digital process.
However, emergency applications will be unrestricted under the new service, allowing councils to submit such applications without any scrutiny.