Headlines: September 29th, 1998

Information for people needing to use Britain’s courts system has been reviewed, slimmed down, and made a lot more customer friendly, according to the Lord Chancellor’s Department.A new charter for court users in England and Wales has been produced following extensive – and praised – consultation with consumer groups and court users.

And it has been transformed from one large document to a series of fifteen leaflets, each geared towards a particular group of court users ; such as jurors, witnesses, defendants and lawyers. The aim has been to ensure that people only receive information that is of direct interest to them.

The consultation programme for reviewing the charter has been praised by the National Consumer Council, whose chairman David Hatch, described it as a ‘genuine effort’ to take on board the views of consumers.

Around 100 groups and 2500 individual court users took up the invitation to give their views on the existing system and proposed changes.

The issues concentrated on are those that court users felt were most important – the length of time people have to wait at court and information on court procedures. The new charter standards are aimed at minimising delays in court, and keeping users advised where delays are unavoidable.

Copies of the leaflets will be available in courts, libraries, citizens’ advice bureaux, law centres and other outlets.

Each of the leaflets is available on the internet, at