Comment Blog 26 June, 2019

Unlocking Efficiencies in Digital Courts At Scale

The adoption of digital technologies in the courts has the potential to save time and money, and to make it easier for people to access their services. A number of new technologies have been adopted in order to reduce the administrative burden on public sector staff. One area that has benefitted from the implementation of a tailored solution, built on the in-depth analysis of data, is the ‘Fee Account’ system used by HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS).

Fee Account allows HMCTS to record payments and the use of services by those who are heavy users of the courts, such as large corporations and law firms. A direct debit mechanism channels these users’ payments directly to HMCTS, helping to cover some of the costs of running the courts. Traditionally, HMCTS has faced a huge demand to process fee payments due to the old system being clunky, difficult to use, and time consuming for hard-pressed employees.

In line with the Government’s strategy to improve efficiency and streamline processes in the provision of court services, Liberata conducted analysis and redeveloped Fee Account to improve user experience and reduce running costs. Fee Account has introduced user authentication, approval hierarchies and other elements of self-service like password resets.

The solution, which collects nearly a quarter of a billion pounds annually, continues to deliver essential management information to HMCTS for financial reporting and income planning. It is fully integrated with HMCTS’s existing direct debit system and support management of customer credit limits.

The impact of the new system was stark and revealed the true scope of the network of the nation’s court services system. In the first full quarter of live operation to 31st March 2019, on average some 70,000 fee transactions per month were input by nearly 2,000 court staff, on behalf of 2,500 customer accounts, across 450 sites.

For HMCTS, most importantly, it means a better performing system that is easier to use for HMCTS staff. Other benefits include the removal of multiple software licence costs, the continued use of their existing direct debit mechanism, and the improved streamlining of authorisation controls whilst retaining the controls’ integrity. Best of all, it demonstrates the overall benefits of partnerships to harness expertise for public benefit.