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Courts Service new boss to speed up innovation and reform
Angela Denning

30 Oct 2019 / courts Print

Courts boss wants to speed up innovation and reform

New Courts Service chief executive Angela Denning has signed Ireland’s Declaration on Innovation to demonstrate commitment to a culture of innovation in the organisation where she took the helm on 31 July.

The first-ever Courts Service Innovation Week will take place from 9 to 13 December in tandem with an innovation week which will see a call for ideas on how to improve services.

Innovation

The Courts Service is to embrace innovation as a core value, following an invitation from the OECD to public servants internationally.

In 2019, the OECD urged governments to find new ways to solve complex challenges while continuing to serve citizens well. 

It developed a 'declaration to public sector innovation' which was adopted in solidarity by the Public Service Leadership Board in Ireland, as a commitment to innovation and improvement in public services nationally. 

In this month’s Courts Service News Angela Denning says that when in court as a registrar she was often frustrated at the pace of change in the organisation.

Customer focus

"I feel that at this time the role of CEO needed somebody with a real customer focus who is not afraid to make decisions so as to modernise how we do our work, and thereby better enable access to justice.

“Service users have clear expectations from both their business and personal lives of the nature and quality of services that they should reasonably expect from an organisation like ours, and we have not always kept pace with those expectations,” she tells interviewer Gerry Curran in Courts Service News.

Denning feels that both regular contact with court users and staff experience and dedication are significant advantages as she moves to improve the service delivery approach.

"Many organisations don’t have the luxury or experience of direct contact with customers daily to establish their needs and preferences.”

Digitally-enabled

Angela Denning says she is committed to transforming the Courts Service into a modern, digitally-enabled organisation.

She previously worked in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform as the Head of the Government Reform Unit and has many years’ experience working as a High Court Registrar.

"We must not digitise bad habits. First, we need to change how we do our work. There are things we can simplify and make more straightforward for our users by way of collaboration and joined-up thinking."

Denning says she looks forward to receiving and acting on the report of the committee on civil practice and procedure being chaired by High Court President, Justice Peter Kelly.

Hammond Lane site

Denning is also prioritising family law and the ongoing discussions regarding the Hammond Lane site in Dublin 7, earmarked for a family law centre.

The new chief executive also sees huge benefit in the co-location of legal aid and mediation services, sometimes in court buildings.

She believes that in the family law environment, mediated settlements have better outcomes for people, because there is more ownership of the result and buy-in to the details.

Last resort

"Court should be the last resort, yet it should be accessible when needed.

"In that regard, we need to play our part as a Courts Service.”

Good service delivery

For the future, Denning want the public to cite the Courts Service as a place of good service delivery.

“I want a responsive organisation: currently it takes us too long to respond to some types of change. We need to anticipate and be enthusiastic regarding change,” she says.

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