The latest proposal in overhauling the current Court system is to make all claims under £25,000 go through a compulsory online system. Currently, claims can be issued online, but the new proposals could mean the entire hearing could be decided online as well. This is a quite a drastic change.
The idea is online facilitators could be used to help parties reach an agreement, and if that failed, online judges would rule on cases without the need for a hearing or to give evidence.
A company that uses this method is eBay and apparently successfully resolves over 60 million small disputes each year.
The purpose of introducing this method would be to elevate pressure on courts, cut costs, as well as reducing the amount of time it takes for matters to be heard.
The limit of £25,000 seems quite high. Many disputes on the higher end of that scale can have quite complex issues and I would imagine would not be appropriate. In addition, how certain could you be that your case is being looked at by a qualified professional who is suitable to judge the outcome? The process seems more like adjudication rather than a trial, particularly if heard without evidence. It is questionable whether justice can be truly be achieved in this way.
I am of the firm view that evidence should be heard at Court where possible, in order to convey the written message correctly to a Judge. Another concern is that it increases the amount of claims that have no hope, as well as rob someone of the opportunity to be properly represented throughout.
Whether this idea would be implemented remains to be seen. It is an interesting idea, however I suspect it’s going to be many years before we really do move towards this system. In the meantime, it will need a lot of careful planning and work before I am convinced it would work.