Speech by Sir Ernest Ryder: First International Forum on Online Courts

|Speeches|Sir Ernest Ryder

May I, on behalf of all of us, thank our tour guides – Susan Acland-Hood and Richard Susskind for an amazing itinerary visiting more than 20 countries and delving into anthropological questions that are just as interesting as the scale of our online court ambitions.

We now know that you can fit the United Kingdom three times over into New South Wales and that the Netherlands would like to resemble Happy Guy in a Nissan Leaf (but with ambitions to drive a Lamborghini). Singapore has a New States Courts Tower that aside from its architectural merit is next door to a Michelin star pop-up restaurant and India has succeeded in fitting 28m claims on to a smartphone app. The United States memorably likened some court users to Christians dragged to the lions. We have seen the world of online courts and I hope you will agree that our appetite for change has been engaged.

In closing this conference I would like to go back to first principles. In doing so I strongly agree with Susan; the principles are vital but our processes do not need to be as old as our principles. As Richard observed, more than half the world is online but only 43% of the global population has access to the protection of the law. That thought crystallises SOME of our challenges – access to justice in a time of austerity, increasing complexity and social isolation. As Shannon Salter explained in the 1st Sir Brian Neill lecture last night what we are really talking about is communication and engagement with people and, dare I say it, recognition of and respect for a wide variety of traditions, languages and social conventions as well as our commonly held values. Our rules and processes have to be intelligible and usable if they are not to be the exclusive playground of the rich.

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