From the 31st of July 2017, the court system began taking steps outside of the courtroom and onto our screens. We are currently in a 28-month pilot scheme which allows applicants and defendants to utilise technology in the legal system but also provides face-to-face advice and assistance for filling in forms. The pilot is proposed to run until the 30th of November, 2019.
The pilot is currently only open to a limited number of private users; however, in January 2018, access is set to expand to the wider general users of the court who have an appropriate claim.
The platform will allow defendants to claim to ‘create a user’ and log on to view the claim that has been made against them in an attempt towards modernising the court system and making it accessible. At this stage, the introduction of an online court is not proposed to replace the court system completely, with those who are not ‘digital self-serve being directed to the traditional paper method or face-to-face support.
The pilot system is front-loaded to encourage parties to resolve their dispute in the early stages. It is not unusual in today’s society for a dispute to be resolved or a settlement to be reached before the case reaches a full trial against the backdrop of a push towards parties engaging in alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation, negotiation and arbitration.
This new online system has been referred to as the ‘online solutions court’ and has been described by the Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, as a ‘template for securing now and over time in the future the critical object of greater access to justice”. With technology at our fingertips, the introduction of an online court system is believed to create a more accessible system which is available without the time frames of usual office hours.
The success of the pilot scheme will be revealed over time, and the reality of whether this new online system promotes greater access to justice will doubtless become apparent. The question is whether modern society is ready to take that step away from years of legal tradition and onto the digital platform.
O’Donnell Solicitors are able to advise you in all areas of litigation. Please contact us on 01457 761 320 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can assist you.