International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution

Article

Testing the Promise of Access to Justice through Online Courts

Keywords online courts, empirical research, civil justice, access to justice
Authors Bridgette Toy-Cronin, Bridget Irvine, David M. Nichols, Sally Jo Cunningham en Tatiana Tkacukova
Author's information

341052 Bridgette Toy-Cronin
Bridgette Toy-Cronin is the Director of the University of Otago Legal Issues Centre and a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Otago.

341055 Bridget Irvine
Bridget Irvine is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Otago Legal Issues Centre.

341058 David M. Nichols
David M. Nichols is an Associate Professor in Computer Science at the University of Waikato.

341061 Sally Jo Cunningham
Sally Jo Cunningham is an Associate Professor in Computer Science at the University of Waikato.

341064 Tatiana Tkacukova
Tatiana Tkacukova is a Senior Lecturer in the School of English, Birmingham City University. Authors appear in order of the contribution made to the paper.
  • Abstract

      Modernization is increasingly knocking on the courthouse door. Many common law countries are investigating ways to introduce technology to improve civil courts, including the introduction of online courts. These state-led initiatives are primarily focused on lowering state costs in providing justice, as well as increasing access to dispute resolution. One possible solution some legal jurisdictions are exploring is ‘online courts’. Online courts hold the promise of making justice more accessible and affordable: a dispute can be filed at any time, from anywhere, by anyone. This model of delivering justice is envisioned as a system that either is lawyer-less or has a minimal role for lawyers. One of the assumptions underpinning an online court is, therefore, that laypeople can effectively explain a dispute to the court, without legal assistance. To date, there is no empirical research investigating that assumption. In this article, we will outline the proposed online court model, consider the need for robust empirical research, and describe a three-part investigation to explore how clearly and accurately people can explain a dispute.

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