Tag Archives: Legal Support

New Dispute Resolution Model and Online Help System Proposed

Online Help

A report from human rights group Justice, entitled Delivering Justice in an Age of Austerity, has proposed a new model for dispute resolution. The model is designed to deliver better, more equal access to justice in a more cost-effective way than the current system.

The proposed process would see the handling of civil claims supported by an integrated information service encompassing both the internet and a telephone helpline.

Registrars would form an integral part of the model, managing cases proactively. A registrar would also be trained to have in-depth knowledge of specific areas, in order to provide specialist help with disputes of those kinds. These registrars would have to hold recognised legal qualifications, and would have the power to refer cases to a judge, strike out statements, or to undertake either mediation or early neutral evaluation.

In many ways, the recommendations made by Justice for the proposed new dispute resolution model in many ways line up with previous recommendations made by the Civil Justice Council in February. However, Justice put forward the possibility of a wider remit for a dispute resolution process using this model compared to the Civil Justice Council. The report suggested that this kind of system could be used at the first instance across tribunals as well as civil courts.

In their report, Justice expressed the opinion that a model of this sort could ultimately go on to deliver cost savings over the longer term. It would also provide a fairer and more equal system for those claimants who lack access to professional legal advice, particularly following the ever-controversial cuts to the legal aid budget. Indeed, the report was produced in response to legal aid cuts as well as with cuts to the budget of the HM Courts & Tribunals Service, which have left many individuals without access to professional legal advice and assistance and therefore struggling to properly enforce their rights.

The integrated online and telephone advice service, in particular, is pushed by the report as a way to provide accessible and professional legal advice across the board in a way that is cost-effective for the public purse. According to the report, it would take two years to develop the online service following the agreement of sufficient funding.

Andrew Caplen, president of the Law Society, said that he thought the proposals represented an “interesting development” in the debate surrounding the future of legal advice. However, he also said that the proposed technological solution was not a substitute for actual legal representation.

Caplen said: “Quality representation, particularly when one side is represented by a lawyer, is essential. Our 2015 election manifesto emphasises our call for the next government to ensure that every individual has effective access to justice.”