Author
Jessica Thomas

Jessica Thomas

Senior Associate

Read More
Author
Jessica Thomas

Jessica Thomas

Senior Associate

Read More

15 July 2021

Disputes Quick Read – 23 of 63 Insights

Disputes Quick Read: The online future of civil justice – the end of the legal profession or the end of legal drudgery?

  • Quick read

Speaking at the Fordham Law School IP conference 2021, Lord Justice Birss considered the future of civil justice, predicting that in five years' time every civil case will be commenced online via an integrated court IT system. However, he stressed the importance of the legal profession contributing to the conversation, or risk being left behind. 

Here, we look at several key points from Lord Justice Birss' address, including the benefits of an intelligent online court system and the need for an integrated dialogue between computer programmers and legal practitioners.

Access to justice is a worthwhile prize

The more intelligent the online court system becomes, the more easily it will interact with lawyers' in-house IT systems. So, the profession shouldn't fear these systems, but rather view them as an aid to better case management.

In practice, Lord Justice Birss explained, a fully integrated system will mean that: 

  • service will be conducted entirely electronically
  • machine learning will monitor the file to choose the appropriate moment to suggest ADR to the parties, and 
  • most appealingly, with all procedural rules being programmed into the platform it will become almost impossible not to comply with them (which parties often fall foul of, accidentally or otherwise). 

The overall prize here is better access to justice: a system that is easier to navigate, more efficient and less costly as a result – a worthwhile prize, indeed! 

Much like AI, the profession needs an "integrated dialogue"

The crucial question is who will be making the decisions? The publicly available procedural rules and human judges currently mean that scrutiny and transparency tend to prevail. Relying on machine learning to funnel cases through and produce results means that the justice system will be subject to the inherent bias of computer programmers.

According to Lord Justice Birss, this means it's vital that practitioners be willing to take part in the online court conversation now. Proper judicial governance of any machine learning system is crucial, and that can only be achieved by a reciprocal and interactive process with members of the legal profession at its core.

Find out more

As part of our commitment to legal technology and innovation, we recently launched LitiGate's AI-driven litigation platform across our network of contentious teams. To find out more, please reach out to a member of our Disputes & Investigations team.

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