LISTINGS of Court of General Gaol Delivery cases are being put online for the first time.
And bosses at the General Registry hope that if the listings on the www.courts.im website are well-received, they will be rolled out to other courts including the civil and summary courts.
Criticism about the level of public access to information about cases coming before the courts was raised in Tynwald last year by then opposition MHK and now Education Minister Peter Karran.
Mr Karran said then that while the island was ‘leap years’ ahead of where it was with access to justice 30 years ago, there was ‘no excuse not to accept modern functioning democracies’ principles, that the public have a right to know what is going on in public courts’.
The Attorney General replied that while currently there was no integrated court management system in place, work was being undertaken within available resources, with the intention of providing information on court business on the courts website.
‘It is acknowledged that the justice system on the island should be open and transparent, and the provision of appropriate information will certainly assist that,’ he told Tynwald.
The first listings, for Court of General Gaol Delivery cases, went on the website earlier this month.
Paul Coppell, director of courts and tribunal services, said: ‘This is actually something we’ve been planning to do for some time.
‘It is still considered to be a pilot, a first attempt just to see how well it’s received and more importantly how well the process works.
‘We are very anxious that it doesn’t allow anything to be published that should not be published.
‘Assuming it’s successful we will look at rolling it out across as many of the courts as we can.’
Listings of cases before the Court of General Gaol Delivery had previously been mailed to the media.
This same information, including trials and pleas, defendants’ names, start dates and sitting dates, now appears on the website instead.
Mr Coppell said there were no plans to give other information such as the nature of the offences with which a defendant is charged.
He said: ‘We plan to give as much information as we can but we have to balance that with the need to protect the individual concerned.’
Mr Coppell said the project would be rolled out over the next 12 months and it was likely that it would be civil case listings that would be the next to go on the www.courts.im website.
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