International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution


The English Online Court

A Research Proposal for Its Evaluation

Keywords digital justice, online dispute resolution, online court, ADR, litigants in person
Authors Pablo Cortes
Author's information

Pablo Cortes
Pablo Cortes, Chair in Civil Justice Leicester Law School University of Leicester.
  • Abstract

      The most difficult challenge of modern-day courts has been their inequality in terms of access and outcomes. Much effort has been devoted to render court proceedings quicker, less expensive, and more comprehensible, especially for litigants in person (LIPs) as they represent the majority of court users in civil proceedings. There is an ongoing 1.4 billion court reform program in England and Wales, which is introducing new online processes, including notably, the Online Civil Money Claims (OCMC), which current pilot has already processed over 300,000 small claims under £10,000. This new digital court process provides a unique site for exploring the potential and challenges associated with the shift to online proceedings in terms of access to justice, equality of outcomes and perceptions of fairness. To that end, this paper discusses the background of the OCMC process and a research proposal for its evaluation. By empirically understanding what elements of the digital dispute resolution process work well and those that need improvement, there is a unique opportunity to identify design changes in the digital court, so that it can become more accessible and fairer for LIPs, who represent the largest group of court users, and therefore whose views determine the level of public confidence in the English legal system.

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