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Online courts could increase access to justice and reduce court costs by 2017

|Media Release

A new Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) system should be developed in England and Wales to increase access to justice and to streamline the court process, a report recommends today.

The report, by a working group of the independent Civil Justice Council (CJC), calls for a dedicated state-run ‘Online Court’ to operate alongside the traditional court system, and invites the support of all political parties.

The report’s principal author, Professor Richard Susskind, said;

“This report is not suggesting improvements to the existing system. It is calling for a radical and fundamental change in the way that our court system deals with low value civil claims. Online Dispute Resolution is not science-fiction. There are examples from around the world that clearly demonstrate its current value and future potential, not least to litigants in person.”

“On our model, an internet-based court would see judges deciding cases online, interacting electronically with parties. However, our suggested online court has a three tier structure, and we expect most disputes to be resolved at the first two stages without a judge becoming involved.”

The report recommends that Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) set up a pilot as soon as is practicable with a view to rolling out an online court based on the findings.

Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls (and Chairman of the Civil Justice Council) said:

“This an important and timely report. There is no doubt that ODR has enormous potential for meeting the needs (and preferences) of the system and its users in the 21st Century. Its aim is to broaden access to justice and resolve disputes more easily, quickly and cheaply. The challenge lies in delivering a system that fulfils that objective.”

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