Out-Law News | 10 Apr 2018 | 5:31 pm | 2 min. read
The system allows claims of up to £10,000 to be raised by anyone in England and Wales and provides for online dispute resolution and mediation, the HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) said.
The latest pilot builds on earlier successful trials of the system, which has been operational, although still in development, since August 2017, it said. The mechanism has been developed in consultation with members of the judiciary, representatives from the advice and legal community and users.
"Rather than having to fill in and post a paper form, or use an outdated online system from 2002, the new pilot allows people to issue their County Court claim more easily, settle the dispute online and recommends mediation services – which can save time, stress, and money," the HMCTS said and that:-
"Early evidence suggests that the online system has improved access to justice as engagement from defendants has improved" .
HMCTS also indicated that further development work is planned to deliver an "end-to-end" online court system.
UK justice minister Lucy Fraser said: "We know that using the civil courts has been a daunting prospect for some. This innovative, quick and easy online system will enable people and small businesses to get back the money that is rightly owed to them. This is an excellent example of the work we are doing under our £1billion plan to transform the courts system, allowing people to access justice online and around their busy lives."
Senior UK judge, Mr Justice Birss, also welcomed the new pilot.
"This is an important step in the modernisation of our courts and tribunals system," he said. "For too long the perceived delays and complexity of the system have put off too many people from using the civil courts to make a small claim. When it is complete this new online route will give members of the public and small businesses a more user-friendly way to access justice. The system now being made available to the public is the first stage in that new route."
In 2016, Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, partnered with Queen Mary University of London to chart market practices for resolving disputes in the technology, media and telecoms (TMT) sectors. Respondents to the four-month study (44-page / 4.5MB PDF) backed the use of online dispute resolution (ODR), with 63% saying that they expected more TMT disputes to be resolved online over the next decade.
In the EU, the 2013 directive on ADR for consumer disputes and 2013 regulation on ODR for consumer disputes have pushed forward the use of ODR in the consumer context, particularly for cross-border matters, although a report by a Civil Justice Committee (CJC) working group last year questioned the efficacy of those measures and invited discussion on their operation. ODR initiatives are also being progressed in many other jurisdictions, such as Canada.