The HMCTS, which is an abbreviation for the HM Courts and Tribunal Services has declared a particular scheme for the purpose of increasing the users of a digital identity application, the likes of which was developed by the legal professional bodies to more than five courts in England and Wales.
It has extended the users providing the ability to the lawyers who are identified, a chance to register for a quick entrance to Nottingham, Swansea Crown Courts so far, Chester, St Albans and also Portsmouth Combined Court.
The first scheme was launched in August and covered The Maidstone Combined Court, The Tameside Magistrates’ Court, The Brighton Magistrates’ Court, The Southward Crown Court and The Wood Green Court at London.
The Bar Council, as a part of the scheme, had created an app that displays a digital identity which can be scanned by all the court officers, making things convenient and quicker than normal so far.
The project which had been announced by the HMCTS came from a row about new security procedures introduced in courtrooms in August 2017. This required all the visiting parties to get screened at the gates and to prove that their coffee cups and water bottles were genuine.
With this move, solicitors and barristers, including solicitors Chester professionals, were outraged to being subject to this, as according to them they themselves serve as officers of the court.
Adding fuel to the fire, the sip test on the drinks had happened at the same time the catering facilities had been withdrawn from many courts. This meant that unlucky juniors have to sample their trays of drinks publicly so far.
The Chair of the Bar, Andrew Walker QC, stated that some professionals were required to waste their time in long queues and to pass through burdensome and invasive security checks every single day just so that they could carry out their work.
Earlier this year the Law Society and the Bar Council, representing barristers and solicitors distinctively, convinced the Ministry of Justice to allow correctly identified professionals to bypass a standard security checks (which would still exist in the courts that handle terrorism or severe organized crime trials).
Ridiculously, the ID scheme is being implemented just as the UK leaves the EU. For many decades, this has sponsored a legal professional’s identity which was refused by the British jurisdictions.
The row – which added to the suspicious tensions between the legal professionals and the government over legal aids and cuts and court reforms – may have possibly been avoided if the UK bodies were to sign up to the EU scheme and issued identities to lawyers.
With regards to the Secure Identity Across Borders (STORK) programme, the Council of Bar Associations of Europe issued an identification card since the year 1978. Apart from this so far, it recognizes the holder in the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg.
However, both the Ministry of Justice as well as the Legal professional bodies in England and Wales did not see any requirement of issuing official identities to lawyers so far.