Trend Report 4 – ODR and the courts: The promise of 100% access to justice?

Authored by Maurits Barendrecht, Jin Ho Verdonschot, Frances Singleton-Clift, Jamie Poeteray, Gintare Petreikyte, Filippa Braarud, published in 2016 by HiiL

Our Fourth Trend Report is titled, ‘ODR and the courts: The promise of 100% access to justice?’. Following extensive months of research, and a conference involving some of the most senior members of the executive and judiciary from around the world, we are proud to present to you the results of our findings.

It is no secret that courts are facing increasing challenges. High costs, complicated procedures and, as a result, reduced access to justice are highlighting the need for innovation in our legal system. But whilst many agree that change is needed, there are few contenders ready to take up the mantle of innovation.

We believe; and this report aims to show the reasoning behind this belief; that ODR can offer the vehicle for this change. Already internationally successful in small claims disputes; think of Ebay and Paypal’s resolution portals; and gaining acceptance from governments in British Columbia, Europe and the UK, it has real potential to bring us to 100% access to justice. Furthermore, it can fulfil this promise in a financially sustainable way, without putting undue pressure on an already overstretched legal system.

In light of these promises, then, it seems a wonder that courts and legal professionals have been seemingly reluctant to embrace this revolutionary concept. We will examine the major barriers to change, identified through our own experience as providers of ODR platforms for governmental organisations within the UK, British Columbia and The Netherlands. Furthermore, we will be providing concrete solutions for how innovators, legal professionals and governments can work together to the benefit of all.

In an industry so rich with innovations, there are still a huge number of challenges to overcome. There is a long and complication ongoing discussion concerning the buying and selling of platforms, questions of appropriate ownership (by courts or by independent contractors) and the scalability of it all. There are no definitive answers, but this report has attempted to pool together our own collective wisdom, hard won through years of innovation, with that of the larger legal community. We look to provide insights and possible solutions for these challenges and we believe they are by no means insurmountable. In the interests of access to justice, we wish you to take these ideas as your own, and use them as guidance, or inspiration in your own endeavours towards legal modernisation. We have worked hard, not only to produce this report, but also to bring together a consortium of experts, legal professionals and businesspeople whose experience we would like to share with the greater community. Furthermore, we invite you to join us as part of our consortium and broaden our own horizons with your insight. It is only by working together, and learning from each other, that we can successfully bring about such a monumental change as complete access to justice.