Posted by Sheridan Hendzel, Solicitor
A vision for the modern day court – online resolution
In 2017, the Government proposed reforms to provide for the resolution of low value civil money claims using audio and video-link technologies.
Proposals to increase the use of technology and digitalizing procedures in the justice system are designed to facilitate a more accessible legal system that is easier to use for everyone. In theory, this will improve user experience and reduce costs by providing a service that is easy to navigate and will resolve disputes efficiently.
Electronically, cheaply, justly and efficiently
Automation of the initial court procedures already exists in some areas of the justice system, for example in money and possession claims online. However, the online procedure will be governed by a new set of rules independent to the current processes. It is thought that the new process will increase mediation and will focus more attention on the true issues in disputes that will, in turn, provide simple and quick dispute resolution.
The new rule committee will have specific expertise in the law and the provision of lay advice amongst other relevant experience, enabling them to produce straightforward, easily understood court rules supporting the online procedure.
For future users, it is designed to enable self-representation and to provide parties with clear information about where their case is at and what action is required next. This will be significant for businesses, as it will mean they are able to recover money far easier, with digital services allowing them to quickly pursue their cases.
Lord Justice Briggs noted that the current intention is not to “be a court without judges or a court where matters in dispute are to be determined automatically.” But a court where “the basic problems facing ordinary people are capable of being addressed electronically and cheaply, so that oppositions know the case to be met, and the courts will be sufficiently equipped with the resources necessary to decide it justly and efficiently.”
Watch this space
We will have to wait and see what the online court looks like before being able to see if it opens doors for those clients, often small businesses, or individuals, for whom access to civil justice is, currently, not a reality.
In the meantime, we will seek to offer unbundled and affordable services to clients when using the system when they are faced with complex matters or procedures which necessitate our legal advice.
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