Bricks and Mortar to Clicks and Order

The digital justice movement grows


♫ Going on a future quest, surf the mountain, ride the crest
(I’ve been looking in a new direction)...

- Music, lyrics and recorded by Black Lips

The world of law is slowly but surely turning to embrace the benefits of moving online. After all, law is all about communication and the Internet offers myriad ways of communicating, storing, searching, reaching out and disseminating information. It is only logical that tribunals, dispute resolution forums and justice systems should jump onboard and start to realize these benefits.

There are many ways that tribunals can jump online. The following is a list of the Degrees of Implementation that a tribunal can look to when deciding to go online:

  1. News and information portal
    1. Mission, goals and other governing corporate documents
    2. Directors and personnel
    3. Contact information
    4. Employment opportunities
    5. Lists of mediators, arbitrators
    6. How to access legal services associated with the tribunal
    7. Facilitative, Mediation, Med/Arb, Arbitration, Ombuds and determinative services available
  2. Interaction guides
    1. How-to guides and infographics
    2. Guided pathways
    3. Publications
    4. Library
    5. Media resources and releases, including how to join the community following the tribunal on social media
  3. Online filing
  4. Online searching
    1. Jurisprudence
    2. Governing legislation and rules
    3. Forms
    4. All court documents
    5. Cases and decisions
    6. Links to related resources, websites, blogs and government services
  5. Online case management services for tribunal members
  6. Online education services for tribunal members, users and the public
  7. Online ombudsmanship services
  8. Public accountability and transparency resources
  9. Online dispute resolution (“ODR”) services
    1. User supported
    2. Mediation
    3. Arbitration
    4. Ombudsmanship
    5. Online dispute resolution

As you can see, taking a tribunal online can mean anything from hosting a largely information-only website all the way to offering online dispute resolution services through a portal with online filing, hearings and determinations. The advantages of bridging distances, shortening times, lowering costs, cutting travel and reducing other associated delays and expenses weigh heavily in favour of moving online. But of course, there is always the discussion of the impact on justice, good or bad, from any change or innovation.

On this theme, the New Zealand Centre for Information and Communications Technology Law, in the School of Law at Auckland University, will host the 18th ODR Forum on November 14-15, 2018. The two key themes for the 2018 Forum are Innovation and Impact. The first will explore updates and developments in the world of taking dispute and justice systems online. The second theme, for the 15th, will address some of the challenges and critical questions that arise through moving beyond innovation into the disruptions that digital justice can create. 

Taking dispute resolution in a new direction now means surfing the mountain and riding the crest. It remains to be seen what this new quest will mean.

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