Suvarna Garge (Editor)

Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Employees  21,000
Annual budget  £1.7 billion (gross)
Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service
Formed  2011; 6 years ago (2011)
Preceding Executive agency  Her Majesty's Courts Service Tribunals Service
Jurisdiction  England and Wales, United Kingdom for operation of non-devolved tribunals
Headquarters  102 Petty France London, SW1

Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service is an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. It was created on 1 April 2011 by the merger of Her Majesty's Courts Service and the Tribunals Service.


The agency is responsible for the administration of the courts of England and Wales, the Probate Service and tribunals in England and Wales and non-devolved tribunals in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It works from about 600 locations across the United Kingdom.


The Framework Document for Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service says its aim is "to run an efficient and effective courts and tribunals system, which enables the rule of law to be upheld and provides access to justice for all." The courts over which it has responsibility are the Court of Appeal, the High Court, the Crown Court, the magistrates' courts, and the county courts.

The agency is responsible for the administration of all chambers of the First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal, together with the employment tribunals and certain other tribunals which the Tribunals Service was responsible for serving, such as the Special Immigration Appeals Commission and Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission.


Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service remains operationally independent, and the responsibility for overseeing the leadership and direction of the agency rests with its Board, three of whose members are judicial officeholders and one of whom is Senior Presiding Judge. The Chief Executive is responsible for the day-to-day operations and administration of the agency, and is the Accounting Officer for the agency.

The Lord Chancellor is required by section 1 of the Courts Act 2003 and section 39 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 to ensure there is an efficient and effective system to support the carrying on of the business of courts and tribunals, and it is to the Lord Chancellor that the agency is accountable, and the Lord Chancellor is in turn responsible for accounting for its operations to Parliament.

Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service is an executive agency, in contrast with the Scottish Court Service which is not subject to the control of a Minister in any way. However, it is unique in being such an agency and having constitutional accountability to judges as well as the Lord Chancellor. The framework document says that the agency is accountable to the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and the Senior President of Tribunals. This provides a unique partnership between all three in relation to the effective governance, financing and operation of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service. For example, where the Board cannot reach agreement, its Chair will refer the issue in question to the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice for a decision.

Any amendment of the framework document must be agreed between all parties, and laid before Parliament. Furthermore, the Lord Chief Justice (and the Senior President) is entitled to terminate the partnership if either concludes that it is no longer compatible with his constitutional position or the independence of the judiciary. By doing so, a report will be presented before both Houses of Parliament of that fact, and the governance of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service will revert to a conventional agency model reporting directly to the Lord Chancellor unless and until a new model is agreed between the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice or a different legislative framework is put in place.

Chief Executives

  • Peter Handcock 2011 – January 2015 (previously Chief Executive of HMCS
  • Natalie Ceeney January 2015 – May 2016
  • Kevin Sadler May 2016 – November 2016 Interim Chief Executive
  • Susan Acland-Hood commenced November 2016. Incumbent
  • References

    Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service Wikipedia