Final Justice Briggs Report Released: Calls for Creation of an Online Court

Today the final report on the modernization of the UK courts was released, and essentially all the ODR recommendations of the Susskind commission were accepted by the author, Lord Justice Briggs.  The portion relevant to the Online Court starts on page 36.
This is the biggest step forward yet in the mainstreaming of ODR within the courts.  Consequently, the announcement is getting a lot of attention — this tweet is from one of the the founders of Legalzoom:
Inline image 1
From the formal announcement:

“Lord Justice Briggs has today published his final report into the structure of the civil courts: The Civil Courts Structure Review (CCSR)

The final report follows an extensive series of meetings with judges, practitioners, stakeholders and users of the civil courts, and a series of detailed written and oral submissions following the publication of the review’s interim report in January 2016.

The review makes a series of recommendations intended to inform the current programme of wider court modernisation being undertaken by HM Courts and Tribunals Service… These are summarised below:

  • The Online Court – a new court, designed to be used by people with minimum assistance from lawyers, with its own set of user-friendly rules. It is anticipated that it will eventually become the compulsory forum for resolving cases within its jurisdiction, and on inception should be dealing with straightforward money claims valued at up to £25,000. Recommendations are made on helping people who need assistance with online systems. Complex and important cases to be transferred upwards to higher courts. Open justice and transparency issues to be addressed.”

Read the full report here.

New Access to Justice Blog from Roger Smith

Roger Smith, the legendary writer and thinker on legal services, has a new blog chronicling the advances in technology and access to justice.

The blog has some excellent advice about the current state of ODR, particularly from the Ministry/Court perspective.  From his latest post:

“My own advice (would that anyone would listen) to any Ministry or Court wishing to dip its toe into the waters of ODR is: wait; see what works and what does not. The chances are HiiL and Modria will come through well but some systems – probably those built in house – will fail. Watch; wait; prepare; move decisively into the market in 2018. But, who in these days of instant movement and rapid technological change wants to hear boringly sensible advice like that?”

Definitely worth the browsing time. 

HiiL Releases “ODR and the Courts: The Promise of 100% Access to Justice?”

The Hague Institute for Innovations in Law (HiiL) has just released their latest Trend report titled “ODR and the Courts; The promise of 100% access to justice?”  This report will be distributed to the world’s judiciary, executive, legal professionals, innovators and wider ODR community.  It comes directly out of the conversations at, which was hosted by HiiL and held in The Hague a few weeks ago.  This report is the product of a huge pooling of collective experience across many sectors, and it will likely make a big splash within legal and judicial communities around the world.

From the Executive Summary:

“The report, bringing together best practices from various legal systems, illustrates how citizens, courts, ministries of justice and the legal profession can all gain from broad implementation of ODR and related procedural innovation. Courts can improve the services to citizens, regain their market share and avoid being overburdened. Government budgets for courts and legal aid can be brought under control by a smart system of user fees for better services to citizens. The law firms working for individuals, now often struggling as a business, can add more value to more people’s lives and serve more people more effectively and efficiently. What is needed is a coordinated effort to open up the legal framework so that new roles and procedural models can freely emerge and be continuously improved.”

You can find an online read-friendly version here, or download the PDF.  Please share widely with your network.

ODR2016 in Beijing

The first ODR2016 International Forum at the Hague in May was a great success. There will be a second ODR2016 International Forum this year. It will be held in Beijing September 19-20 (with optional tours on September 18 and 21). Information about the Beijing Forum is at If you have any questions about attending, would like to make a presentation or would like an invitation (which you will need to obtain a visa), please email our host, Andy Lee of the The Unversity of International Business and Economics at anyu.lee@gmail-in-China or his associate Angela Zhu at or I hope that we will see you there.

Ethan Katsh
Director, National Center for Technology
and Dispute Resolution

IAALS Report Calls for Expansion of Rechtwijzer to the United States

The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) has just released a paper that calls for the implementation of the Rechtwijzer/MyLawBC ODR portal to courts in the United States.  This paper is based on a two-day conference convened by IAALS at the University of Denver in June 2016.  The paper calls for the creation of a “Family Law Portal” (FLP) that will have a large ODR component.  From the report:

“To help plan for the FLP, at the A Court Compass for Litigants convening, attendees were shown two tools designed to help people resolve their family law issues: Rechtwijzer 2.0 used in the Netherlands and MyLawBC used in British Columbia. The latter replicates the functionality of the former and adds an additional Guided Pathways feature. The features common to both include an online dispute resolution (“ODR”) system that helps families that are getting divorced with a minimum of judicial intervention. This process is based upon a concept developed for resolving consumer disputes on eBay—a system that resolves over 60 million disputes a year. The parties start the process online by following guided interviews that help them identify the issues and learn ways to resolve them. If the parties reach an impasse on an issue, they can request the assistance of a professional mediator.23 Again, this is all within the online system. Should they not be able to reach agreement through mediation, 24 they can request a decision on the issue from a non-judicial hearing examiner. At the end of the process, the parties have a settlement agreement that will be filed with the court and signed by a judge.”

The report further recommends that the Rechtwijzer/MyLawBC platform be extended to multiple courts in the US to test its effectiveness in the US market.  From the conclusion:

“Rather than reinventing the wheel, IAALS proposes to replicate the features of Rechtwijzer and MyLawBC on a platform that can be scaled throughout the United States. In addition to the features described, it will incorporate the work that is being done by the Stanford Design School to facilitate natural language search inquiries, so that users do not need to cite legalese. The Stanford project plans to work with Google to identify the terms “real people” use when looking
for answers to their legal problems. This natural language approach will be used throughout the process.”

The full report can be read here.