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The system will be designed to shut down disputes early, however there remains the issue of the determined, but hopeless, litigant’s claim.


If a litigant is not deterred by legal advice in the current system, then they are unlikely to be deterred following the computer triage system.


It is not clear whether the online court would decide that there is no arguable case and prevent it from being issued. This may have the effect of stopping deserving cases from accessing the court system. LJ Briggs did acknowledge the need for trial advocacy, particularly where cross-examination is required, and again recommends ‘some fixed recoverable costs’ for advocacy.


My view


An online court could bring with it the advantage of simple pre-action requirements and a quicker overall process allowing litigants to obtain a final decision sooner and with the convenience of access through a laptop and perhaps even a smartphone. It remains to be seen whether the ‘knowledge engineering’ process could be sophisticated enough to ensure that litigants do not go without bespoke legal advice or receive incorrect guidance on legal options


March 2017 www.CCRMagazine.co.uk


LJ Briggs did acknowledge the need for trial advocacy, particularly where cross-examination is required, and again recommends ‘some fixed recoverable costs’ for advocacy


during the triage process. Consequences of a flawed system could be severe. There is the important question, what about those who are not IT literate or do not have broadband? The recommendation is that there will be no parallel paper version of the court. It would be left to the advice agencies to assist.


LJ Briggs recommends a new Litigant in Person Engagement Group to identify and design the best form of assistance. It remains to be seen whether assistance will work in practical terms and there is argument that the millions of pounds required to develop an online court would be better spent on legal aid.


The question of costs also remains open at the moment. In terms of fees and costs LJ Briggs only states that “its processes would not be free”.


LJ Briggs recommends that some claims be exempt from the online court. Interestingly, he recommends that claims for possession of homes be exempt from the online court system ‘at least initially’.


The proposal is for the new system to focus on money claims, and some claims for damages, but, given time, the system may pave the way for online court claims of a greater spectrum and without the limitations on value or remedy. CCR


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