Civil Courts Structure Review

Darren Sylvester at DJS Law Solicitors attended an event with Lord Justice Briggs at the Law Society on Thursday, 9 June 2016 and sets out below the key points arising from the presentation:

1) Final Report of the Civil Courts Structure Review will be submitted to the Master of the Rolls and the Lord Chief Justice in mid-July 2016;

2) There is a reasonable prospect of the Master of the Rolls and the Lord Chief Justice publishing the Final Report in July/August 2016;

3) The proposal of an Online Court will not be a ‘judge-free’ zone or even a ‘lawyer-free’ zone, but a case officer (probably a person who is legally qualified) is likely to be the first person a litigant bringing a claim via the Online Court will encounter;

4) The Online Court will digitise the whole court system, with the civil courts consisting of one or more online courts, probably accessed through an online portal;

5) The aim is to have all civil litigation conducted online by 2020;

6) Stage 1 – will be an automated process where litigants set out their case with sufficient particularity (if necessary, with evidence and documents uploaded to the portal) to be understood by the opposing party and resolved by the court;

7) Stage 2 – will involve conciliation and case management by a case officer, conducted either online or by telephone;

8) Stage 3 – will involve determination by a deputy district judge or district judge in person, by telephone or via video link;

9) Parties should aim to get professional advice on the merits of their claim before entering the Online Court system;

10) The aim is for the Online Court to operate in a paperless environment;

11) No court fees for the Online Court have been set as yet, but fees will probably have to be designed to make the Online Court self-funded; and

12) England & Wales will need to increase efforts around Public Legal Education so that the public understand the use and function of an Online Court for claims under £25,000.00

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