I understand that there is a big push worldwide to move courts online to increase efficiency and reduce cost. Will this really help?
Although we should keep certain traditions such as having everything in triplicate, many welcome law-on-line as an opportunity for reform.
Here are five proposals:
- There is no need to have a judge at every court. In the eleventh century, itinerant judges went from town to town on particular circuits dispensing the King’s justice as required. Judges could be kept at a central location called a “Home” and sent to courts on request. How often would that be? Well, according to focus groups - never. But, even if it were not often, there would still be substantial savings.
- Already in our courts, oral submissions have for the most part been replaced with written submissions. Would it not be more efficient to have an on-line questionnaire with a choice of four answers “Yes”, “No”, “It all depends” or “I don’t know”?
- Legal service consumers who have long complained about the performance and appearance of their lawyers should have a choice between standard lawyers and muscle bulging digitized virtual lawyers equipped with the type of weaponry available in any computer game.
- Prison sentences and other old fashioned penalties could be replaced with virtual punishment. For instance, virtual tagging preventing offenders from going on Facebook. Community service could be served in Second Life.
- I have long thought that a jury of twelve is far too small. In ancient Athens juries consisted of five hundred citizens. We could easily outdo this by using Twitter. If submissions were only 140 characters, cases could be over in minutes.
I do not agree with those who wish to replace familiar terms such as “plaintiffs” and “defendants” with something less confrontational such as “survivors”. However litigants should be allowed to choose their own court persona to protect their privacy and spice up the court lists.
How much saving could such reforms achieve? Well, if Instagram can manage thirty million subscribers with thirteen staff I think we can do better than that.
Extract from - I'll have the law on you -selected letters of John Fytit to be published later this year.
(c) Paul Brennan 2015. All rights reserved.
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