So, what new alternatives and approaches are being put forward to resolve different types of legal disputes worldwide?

  • April 01, 2017
  • By David J. Bilinsky

Here is a selection:

The Netherlands Project Rechtwijzer 

The Netherlands Project Rechtwijzer has existed in the Netherlands for more than 10 years, and in its current capacity as an Online Dispute Resolution (“ODR”) platform for the last one and a half years. It is the first ODR platform to succeed in innovating ODR within complex relation disputes like divorce and landlord-tenant issues, beyond its traditional use in consumer disputes. 

The Rechtwijzer Divorce platform was the first to be made available to the Dutch public. In a little over a year, it has gained a 5% market share for Dutch divorce, with more than 2,000 people using the platform. It costs a couple on average 400€ to go through the entire divorce process with Rechtwijzer, compared to traditional costs of upwards of 3000€.

HiiL

HiiL, a not-for profit foundation based in The Hague, developed the Rechtwijzer platform in the Netherlands in conjunction with the Raad voor Rechtsbijstand (Dutch Legal Aid Board) and with financing from the Ministerie van Veiligheid. Rechtwijzer has expanded to British Columbia with MyLawBC and to the UK with Relate.

All of the platforms enable the two parties to collaborate on their legal problem in their own words, at their own pace, from the comfort of their own homes. Empowering people with the only tool that gives them control of their own legal destiny in a guided manner. This guidance and any additional assistance needed is provided by professional, legally trained service providers, that are always on standby to safeguard the user’s interests.

BC’s Civil Resolution Tribunal

BC’s Civil Resolution Tribunal (“CRT”): The CRT is Canada’s first online dispute resolution tribunal for resolving strata and Small Claims matters. At the moment, the CRT is accepting strata property disputes for intake. Soon, it will begin to accept Small Claims disputes as well. It offers new ways to resolve legal issues in a timely and cost-effective manner. The CRT encourages a collaborative, problem-solving approach to dispute resolution, rather than the traditional adversarial approach.

HackJustice

HACKJUSTICE was a two-day “hackathon” that brought together legal professionals, computer programmers, students, computer scientists, software developers, members of the public, and professionals of various disciplines to code and create technology applications that will improve access to justice. It was held February 3-4, 2017 simultaneously in Montreal and Toronto. The purpose was for participants to compete for prizes as they worked in teams to create and code either a mobile phone or software app, a website, or other technological solution to make justice more accessible.

Alternative Business Structures

In the UK, charities have set up alternative business structures to establish law firms that can take the law practice’s profits to fund the charity’s work. Charities that have done this include: The Anti-Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit, which launched Islington, north London firm Saltworks; the Community Advice and Law Service in Leicester has launched Castle Park Solicitors, with the aim of profits going to the law centre; and spinal injury charity Aspire created a joint venture with law firm Moore Blatch. The Centre for Criminal Appeals, a charity dedicated to investigating and working to overturn miscarriages of justice, turned itself into a law firm.

© 2017 David J. Bilinsky