International forum on online courts, 3 and 4 December 2018

An overview of the conference, The Cutting Edge of Digital Reform, jointly hosted by HMCTS and the Society for Computers and Law.

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International delegates gathered at this inaugural forum in London to exchange ideas, forge new partnerships and discuss the cutting edge of court reform.

Almost 200 academics, legal professionals and court reform experts attended the two-day event. They were joined by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice to discuss the successes, challenges and technological advances being made in justice systems globally.

Forum programme

The event was jointly chaired by Susan Acland-Hood, Chief Executive of HMCTS and Professor Richard Susskind, President of Society for Computers and Law.

Speeches and presentations

Please see below speeches and presentations from the forum:

Day 1

The first day of the forum was devoted to finding out what is going on at the cutting edge of court technology around the world. The focus was on online courts, including: submission of legal evidence and argument online, online decision-making by judges, ODR within court systems, online help and diagnostics for court users, and other advanced technologies.

We heard presentations from countries with particularly advanced examples of online courts.

We also heard shorter, 10-minute snapshots from countries around the world.

Shannon Salter, Chair of the Civil Resolution Tribunal, Canada, presented the inaugural SCL Sir Brian Neill Lecture, Can Online Dispute Resolution Humanize the Justice System?

Day 2

In the second half of the conference, we looked forward, into the 2020s, and discussed some of the central issues that will face policymakers, judges, technologists, and lawyers, who are planning or introducing online courts.

These discussions took place in panels. Each panel was chaired by leading legal figures from the UK. We heard provocations by experts in each topic, with panellists then responding, and thereafter, contributions from the floor.

  • Chair: Lord Briggs, Justice of The Supreme Court
  • Speaker: Dr Orna Einy, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Haifa, Israel
  • Panel: Judge John Aitken, President of the Social Entitlement Chamber & Andrew Walker QC, Chair of the Bar

  • Chair: Joshua Rozenberg QC (hon), British legal commentator and journalist
  • Speaker: Caroline Sheppard OBE, Chief Adjudicator, Traffic Penalty Tribunal
  • Panel: Chris Bentley, Managing Director, Legal Innovation Zone and Law Practice Program, Ryerson University, Toronto and Martin Stockdale, Partner, Kennedys

  • Chair: Christina Blacklaws, President of the Law Society of England and Wales
  • Speaker: Dr Sandra Wachter, Research Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
  • Panel: Orlando Conetta, Head of SmartDelivery, Pinsent Masons LLP and James Slessor, Global Managing Director, Accenture Public Safety

  • Chair: Professor Dame Hazel Genn, Professor of Socio-Legal Studies, Faculty of Laws, UCL
  • Speaker: Professor Pablo Cortés, Chair in Civil Justice, Leicester Law School, University of Leicester
  • Panel: Dr Sadanand Date, Joint Secretary, eCourts, Justice-II, National Judicial Academy and eOffice, Ministry of Justice, India and Amanda Finlay CBE, Chair of Law for Life

Forum reflections and summary

During the forum, many attendees gave their reflections on the event and what they would like to see next. This section will be added to as new recordings are published.

Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor David Gauke MP

At the end of the forum, the Senior President of Tribunals Sir Ernest Ryder gave his thoughts on the key trends and challenges that had arisen over the two days.

Senior President of Tribunals, Sir Ernest Ryder

Background to the event

HMCTS is working on an ambitious programme of court reform, which aims to bring new technology and modern ways of working to the way justice is administered.

In collaboration with the senior judiciary and the Ministry of Justice, we are investing £1bn to reform our courts and tribunals system.

In designing and delivering a six-year programme to transform the justice system in England and Wales, we’ve looked closely at the experience of other jurisdictions.

We’re also gathering views of those who use the UK justice system and work within it. Our events page includes a range of events and opportunities to work with us on the reform programme.

Published 3 December 2018
Last updated 14 December 2018 + show all updates
  1. Summary of panels sessions added 14 December 2018.

  2. Add link to the SCL Sir Brian Neill Lecture.

  3. More videos added.

  4. Presentation slides and speeches added.

  5. Speeches and presentations added.

  6. First published.