eBay inspires UK justice system to move online

EBay inspired much more than an impulse-buy or two. It seems as the internet e-commerce giant inspired a possible major change in the British judicial system, Telegraph reports.

In a bid to modernise the legal system in the UK and bring down the costs, a report suggested the system should be partially moved online.

Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls, has given his backing to this report.

The report, written by Professor Richard Susskind, the Lord Chief Justice’s IT Adviser argues that some cases, like financial claims worth less than £25,000 or various family disputes could be resolved over email, and / or telephone conference calls.

It uses eBay’s Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) as an example of a solid dispute resolving system.

“ODR is not science fiction,” it says.

“Famously, each year on eBay, around 60 million disagreements amongst traders are resolved through ODR. This is a well-established way of resolving disputes, appropriate for the Internet age. Other jurisdictions, most notably, Holland and Canada, are already forging ahead. If, in England and Wales, we aspire to have a court system that leads the way, then we already have some catching up to do.”

There’s a downside to this system, some judges believe, saying that a rise in numbers of people representing themselves, rather than relying on a lawyer, could cripple the system.

In a foreword to the report, Lord Dyson explained: “At a time of major pressure on public spending and high legal costs, ODR offers a major opportunity to help many people for whom public funding to resolve disputes is not available, or for whom legal costs are prohibitive.

"ODR is also in harmony with wider changes in society, in particular the advances in technology and the large scale use of online services to transact all forms of business. The courts have some catching up to do with other areas of business and Government. It is important that we get this right.”

Andrew Grant, account director for enterprise services at Ricoh UK, also offered his thoughts on the matter: "Streamlining inefficient systems in the ‘paper intensive’ civil justice system is long overdue. However its lateness to the party means it has the benefit of being able to learn from the success of other sectors.

"Many businesses now allow people to work to schedules and in locations that suit them and provide then with the technology to do so. The result has been increased capabilities and a more inclusive workforce, whilst reducing business costs.

"It’s encouraging to see this replicated with the suggestion of ‘online courts’.. Technology, properly implemented, will make things cheaper and faster. But perhaps more important it will increase access to justice.

"Just as in business technology can allow a new mother to work effectively without leaving her children, it can allow witnesses who can’t or won’t come to a courtroom to give evidence which may be vital to ensuring justice is done."