UK judge proposes online court sans lawyers

by Sol Dolor01 Aug 2016
A UK judge has suggested the establishment of an online court that lets people resolve disputes worth less than £25,000 in a process that rarely needs the involvement of lawyers, if at all.
The suggestion, seen to cut costs, comes from Lord Justice Briggs who conducted a review starting July 2015 of the civil courts of the British justice system.
In the 300-page Civil Courts Structure Review: Final Report penned by the judge, he describes the online court having a three-stage process that involves an automated online triage phase, a conciliation phase to be handled by “case officers” and – if all else fails – a determination phase to be led by a judge.
Detailing the first stage, he writes that it is “designed to help litigants without lawyers articulate their claim in a form which the court can resolve, and to upload their key documents and evidence.”
Intending to embrace digital technologies for the suggested addition to the British civil courts system, the determination phase can be done via video or telephone hearings apart from in-person trials or “determination on the documents.”
The judge sees the online court becoming the compulsory forum for resolving cases within its jurisdiction.
He also took note of and provided recommendations for criticisms ­mainly about provisions for the technologically-challenged to be assisted in using the system, for complex cases to be escalated to higher courts and for justice and transparency issues to be addressed.
In a statement, Lord Justice Briggs said that it is for others to decide which of his recommendations should be implemented, and by what means. 
“In my view, if they are all substantially implemented, then the essentially high quality of the civil justice service provided by the courts of England and Wales will be greatly extended to a silent community to whom it is currently largely inaccessible, and both restored and protected against the weaknesses and threats which currently affect it,” he said.