New HMCTS chief pledges to continue to ‘modernise’ justice system

Courts service appoints Nick Goodwin as CEO

Credit: Crown Copyright/Open Government Licence v3.0

The new chief executive of HM Courts and Tribunals Service has pledged to continue to “improve and modernise” the justice system.

Nick Goodwin will take over the top job at HMCTS in mid-March. Interim chief executive Kevin Sadler will retire later in the month, after a handover period.

Goodwin is currently chief executive of the Office of the Public Guardian. HMCTS said his appointment was approved by prime minister Boris Johnson after an open competition for the role, which offered a salary of up to £130,000 to the successful applicant.

Goodwin said he was “delighted to have been given the privilege” of leading the courts service.

He takes over HMCTS in the midst of a seven-year £1bn reform programme, which includes the implementation of digital services, an organisation-wide technology refresh, and the closure of scores of courts around the country.

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“Having spent the majority of my career working alongside courts and tribunals staff and the judiciary, I know there is nothing more important, nor rewarding, than upholding the rule of law and administering justice,” he said.

One of his major tasks will be tackling the backlog in court cases, which had built up prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and reached record highs during the crisis.

Statistics from last year showed there were nearly 61,000 outstanding crown court cases, and more than 364,000 cases waiting to be heard in magistrates’ courts.

The National Audit office warned last month that the backlog in crown court cases will be significant for “several years”.

“HMCTS is successfully tackling the backlog which has built up during the pandemic and making the most of the opportunity to transform the justice system,” Goodwin said. “I know that by building on the commitment and talent of our people, and working closely with others, we can continue to improve and modernise our excellent justice system. I am very much looking forward to progressing this work and becoming part of a talented and dedicated team.”

Before becoming chief exec of the Office of the Public Guardian in 2019, Goodwin was director for access to justice policy at the Ministry of Justice – the service’s sponsor department.

Antonia Romeo, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice, said: “Nick is a talented public servant with valuable MoJ and agency experience. I know he will lead HM Courts and Tribunals Service with energy and integrity, working with colleagues across MoJ and our partners to continue to deliver our ambitious court reform programme and ensure we remain on track in our pandemic recovery.”

Romeo also thanked Sadler for his “excellent” interim leadership of HMCTS.

“During his tenure, HMCTS has helped keep the justice system moving and taken important steps to begin to recover from the effects of the past two years,” she said. “He has been a terrific colleague and I wish him all the best for his retirement.”


Sam Trendall

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