TLEF, together with UCL and the University of Oxford, brought together experts to draft recommendations for measuring the impact of online courts on access to justice

The court system in England and Wales is undergoing a period of rapid and unprecedented change. In 2016, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (“HMCTS”) established a programme of reform that intends to introduce new technology, modernise the justice system and reduce costs. Cost reductions are expected to be realised through a combination of reducing staff, reducing the number of cases held in physical court rooms and reducing the court estate, as well as generating efficiency savings through reforming administrative processes. The HMCTS Reform Programme aims to reduce demand on courts by moving activity out of court rooms, expanding the use of video technology, introducing online end-to-end processes, promoting the use of online negotiation, mediation and settlement and developing new asynchronous processes (such as Continuous Online Resolution) for use in areas of administrative justice.

In delivering these changes, HMCTS have publicly committed both to monitoring and evaluating the impact of the reform programme on: “peoples access to, and the fairness of, the justice system, particularly in relation to those who are vulnerable” and to: “use insights from external research and academia to validate and challenge their approach”. To assist in this task, The Legal Education Foundation, together with Professor Dame Hazel Genn (UCL Laws) and Professor Abigail Adams and Professor Jeremias Prassl (University of Oxford) brought together experts from around the world to recommend a framework for designing an evaluation that would be recognised as robust.

The workshops, which were held in October and November 2018, brought together thirty-eight experts in online dispute resolution, public law, civil procedure, access to justice research, court administration and evaluation. Attendees included:

Prof. Abigail Adams New College, University of Oxford
Ms. Julie Bishop Law Centres Network
Lord Justice Peter Coulson Deputy Head of Civil Justice, England and Wales
Dr. Naomi Creutzfeld University of Westminster
Ms. Renee Danser Access to Justice Lab, Harvard Law School
Prof. Noam Ebner Creighton University Graduate School
Prof. Cristie Ford University of British Columbia
Prof. Dame Hazel Genn UCL Centre for Access to Justice, UCL Faculty of Laws
Mr. Richard Goodman HMCTS
Prof. Andrew Higgins Mansfield College, University of Oxford
Ms. Rhiannon Hollis Justice Select Committee
Mr. Murray Hunt Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law
Prof. Peter John Kings College London
Ms. Charlotte Kilroy Doughty Street Chambers
Ms. Sara Lomri Public Law Project
Prof. Helen Margetts The Alan Turing Institute and The Oxford Internet Institute
Mr. Richard Miller The Law Society
Prof. Helen Mountfield Matrix Chambers and Mansfield College Oxford
Prof. Kate O’Regan The Bonavero Insitute of Human Rights, University of Oxford
Ms. Alison Pickup Public Law Project
Mr. Timothy Pitt-Payne QC 11 Kings Bench Walk
Prof. Jeremias Prassl Magdalene College, Oxford
Mr. Michael Reed Free Representation Unit
Prof. Judith Resnik Arthur Liman Professor of Law, Yale Law School
Ms. Rachel Robinson Equality and Human Rights Commission
Mr. Richard Rogers The Civil Resolution Tribunal, British Columbia
Dr. Meredith Rossner The London School of Economics
Sir Ernest Ryder Senior President of Tribunals
Dr. Ayelet Sela Bar-Illan University, Israel
Mr. David Slayton Joint Technology Committee, National Centre for State Courts
Dr Joe Tomlinson Kings College London and The Public Law Project
Prof. Patricia White University of Miami School of Law
Prof. John Zeleznikow Victoria University Business School

The draft recommendations are available here. The formal evaluation of the reform programme will be led by the Ministry of Justice, who have committed to finalising their approach by Spring 2019. In order to assist the Ministry of Justice in scoping their evaluation approach, TLEF would welcome comments and feedback on these draft recommendations by 22nd March 2019. Please email any comments or suggestions to Natalie.Byrom@theLEF.org by this date.

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