The digital delivery of legal services in England and Wales to people formerly on legal aid could be at the cusp of a “tipping point”, according Britain’s foremost researcher into online law, Professor Roger Smith. He also predicted that high street law firms would be increasingly vulnerable to website-based national brands, as retailers have been to Amazon.
The independent Low Commission, which has produced a series of influential reports on the future of social welfare law, is to “start a process of winding up”, its chairman has announced. Lord Low said funding was “increasingly hard to secure”.
A team of computer coding specialists from magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have won a groundbreaking ‘hackathon’ to create an IT-based product of use to Hackney Law Centre, with a multi-lingual access to justice website built from scratch in just 24 hours.
The public believes that the legal system should be modernised faster than is happening at present, with many feeling “the justice system has retained tradition at the expense of efficiency”, new research has found. Education about the law and legal process, and simplifying legal language were also keys to improving access to justice.
A report for the Council of Europe has argued that online dispute resolution and use of IT could improve access to justice by “offering solutions to the problems of judicial inefficiency, the high cost of litigation and geographical barriers”.
Mr Justice Mostyn has delivered some of the strongest judicial criticisms yet of the legal aid cuts and warned that “more are in prospect” under a majority Conservative government. His comments, though largely targeted at family law, came on the eve of today’s strike over pay by criminal law solicitors.
Harnessing the communications power of the digital revolution can go a long way towards filling the access to justice gap created by cuts in legal aid, according to a major report.
‘Advice deserts’ that appear as a result of competition brought about by alternative business structures cannot be dealt with effectively by regulators operating under the Legal Services Act, an academic study headed by Professor Stephen Mayson has argued.
The Legal Services Board yesterday laid out how it will monitor the impact of alternative business structures and other reforms on access to justice. The attempt to “baseline” access to justice and to evaluate change over time proposes 18 measures.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority has so far received more alternative business structure applications than it expected, chief executive Antony Townsend admitted yesterday. He also suggested that there will in time be growing momentum towards consolidating the eight current legal regulators into one.