Working towards a flexible, efficient and effective justice system

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service’s Flexible Operating Hours Pilot evaluation results

Frontier Economics, in partnership with IFF Research, are pleased to announce the publication of the results of the Flexible Operating Hours (FOH) pilot evaluation today.

HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) set up the FOH pilots to look at maximising the use of time in specific court and tribunal hearing rooms to support a more flexible, efficient and effective justice system (as per the pilot prospectus).

The FOH pilots involved running afternoon and late sittings in court rooms in Manchester Civil Justice Centre and early and late sittings in Brentford County Court, between September 2019 and March 2020. As independent evaluators, we set out to answer:

  1. Whether longer court operating hours meant that a greater proportion of court time was devoted to productive uses, with less time where the court was not in use;
  2. Whether operating court rooms at different times of the day offered more open and accessible justice to citizens; and
  3. Whether and how FOH impacted professional and public court users, and the agencies working in the justice system.

The evaluation aimed to assess the impact of the FOH pilots across eight domains, as outlined in the graphic below and the evaluation plan.

Overall, this report provides important new evidence of the conditions under which flexible operating hours in courts may be a fruitful avenue for increasing access to and efficiency of the court estate.

For a more detailed overview of the evaluation results, including policy recommendations, please click here to read the executive summary and full report.

For more information please contact, or call +44 (0)20 7031 7000.