Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill: Lords third reading

03 July 2019

The Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill had its third reading, a chance to 'tidy up' the bill and make changes, in the Lords on Tuesday 2 July.

Members discussed the right of individuals to choose between electronic and non-electronic means to participate in court proceedings and nominations to judicial office made by the Lord Chief Justice.

Following the completion of third reading, the bill now passes to the Commons for its consideration.

Lords report stage: Monday 24 June

Members discussed:

  • the duty to make support available for digitally excluded people and; 
  • circumstances in which any party initiating proceedings may choose whether they are initiated in accordance with Online Procedure Rules or applicable standard rules.

Following a debate in the chamber there were two divisions (votes) on proposed amendments (changes) to the Bill.

The first amendment was regarding an increase in the number of persons appointed to the Online Procedure Rules Committee by the Lord Chancellor. The number would be increased from two to three persons.

132 members of the Lords voted in favour of the amendment and 219 voted against, and so the change was not made.

The second division concerned the requirement of the minister to have the agreement of the Lord Chief Justice when requiring the committee to make further provisions to achieve a specific purpose.

226 members voted in favour of the amendment and 182 voted against, and so the change was made.

Third reading, a chance to 'tidy up' the bill and make changes, is scheduled for 2 July.

Lords committee stage: Monday 10 June

Members discussed a range of topics, including:

  • the requirement for parties to participate in court proceedings digitally 
  • the provision of designated assistance with the conduct or progress of proceedings to parties governed by online procedure rules
  • appointment of the Online Procedure Rule Committee
  • reviewing the operation of the Act and reporting to Parliament within a specified time frame.

Lords second reading: Tuesday 14 May

Lord Keen of Elie (Conservative), Lords spokesperson in the Ministry of Justice, responded on behalf of the government.

Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill summary

The bill aims to:

  • establish an Online Procedure Rule Committee (OPRC) to create new and easily navigable online rules for civil, tribunal and family proceedings
  • enable the Lord Chancellor to alter the composition of the OPRC with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, the Lord Chief Justice and the Senior President of Tribunals
  • enable the Lord Chancellor or Secretary of State to amend, repeal or revoke legislation to facilitate the making of online rules.

Further information

Image: PA

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