Richard Susskind wrote a powerful column for the Financial Times on the move to online courts. An excerpt:
“…the main reason for the digital transformation of court service is unrelated to Covid-19. Rather, court systems around the world are largely broken. According to the OECD, more than 4bn people live beyond the protection of lawyers, the law and courts. In some countries, the backlog is staggering: some 80m cases in Brazil and 30m in India. Even in advanced legal systems, the process is generally only understandable to lawyers, is too expensive for most and civil cases take far too long. There is an acute problem of access to justice. Hardly anyone, anywhere, can afford to take legal action through public courts. It is increasingly unaffordable for large businesses too. Many practices and procedures are arcane in today’s digital societies.
I have little doubt that technology can provide a sustainable set of solutions. But we have to deploy the right systems. Many technology advocates believe greater efficiency can be achieved by automating and streamlining conventional court work. Although well-intentioned, this approach is misguided. It will deliver mess-for-less, rather than a transformed public dispute system fit for the 21st century. Grafting technology on to processes that can date as far back as 900 years is not the answer.
The challenge instead is to develop systems that deliver court services in ways that were previously impossible or even unimaginable. The point is not to computerise current practices. The great power of technology lies in transformation, not in automation.”
Read the full piece here (subscription required):