Tribunals president calls for ‘one-stop shop’ justice
By Chloe Smith » The justice system should be a ‘one-stop shop’ that can resolve multiple problems via a single entry point, the senior president of tribunals has said. In a speech on modernisation of access to justice in times of austerity, Sir Ernest Ryder said there needs to be a change in how litigation is viewed – from an adversarial dispute to a problem to be solved. He said: ‘Digitisation presents an opportunity to break with processes that are no longer optimal or relevant and build on the best that we have to eliminate structural design flaws and perhaps even the less attractive aspects of a litigation culture. ‘If we simply digitised our existing courts and tribunals, and their processes, all we would do is digitally replicate our existing system. Such an approach would fossilise our Victorian legacy.’ He said digitisation of the courts process also gives the opportunity to create a seamless system of justice. He said: ‘If a litigant, party, or user has a problem, they should be able to come to the court system to have it resolved. They should not have to compartmentalise their own problem and run to different parts of the system with each bit.’ Ryder described the current system, where courts and tribunals have overlapping jurisdictions over many areas, as ‘patently inefficient’. He said that digitisation and development of online courts should create a single entry point to the justice system, which could facilitate the direction of claims to the right part of the system, thus avoiding duplication. Ryder also outlined plans to trial online dispute resolution in the tribunals, through a pilot in the Social Entitlement Chamber to test a concept dubbed ‘online continuous hearings’. In these trials, the appellant and the Department for Work and Pensions – the respondent in these cases – would review and comment on case papers online, so that issues in disputes could be clarified and explored.
[Courtesy – The Law Society Gazette]