Across the globe, many court sittings have been disrupted leaving much countering scampering to find ways to ensure that the courts continue to operate and deliver, even during the crisis.
Different countries, regions, states etc. have had to try out different things to ensure a smooth running of the courts. It is a trial and error phase for many.
Remote Courts Worldwide, spearheaded by Professor Richard Susskind is an initiative backed by the UK government. It is a platform that has been launched to allow different countries to share their experiences as they try to ensure that courts keep running during the lockdown.
The platform allows judges, lawyers, officials, litigants and court technologies to share best practice on the use of remote alternatives to traditional court hearings. Making use of audio, video and other ways to ensure sittings take place, different solutions are being deployed by different countries as in-person appearances and face to face court sittings cannot take place as they have traditionally.
Bauchi state recently launched its own virtual court system. While the NJC has set up a committee to determine strategies to allow courts to continue operations.
Such initiatives are laudable but according to Susskind, there is a risk of duplication of effort and the danger of the wheel being re-invented with all the so many efforts going on simultaneously across the globe.
On the website https://remotecourts.org/news.htm you can read the purpose of the platform:
“As the coronavirus pandemic spreads and courts around the world are closing, this website is designed to help the global community of justice workers – judges, lawyers, court officials, litigants, court technologists – to share their experiences of ‘remote’ alternatives to traditional court hearings.
To ensure ongoing access to justice, governments and judiciaries are rapidly introducing various forms of ‘remote court’ – audio hearings (largely by telephone), video hearings (for example, by Skype and Zoom), and paper hearings (decisions delivered on the basis of paper submissions). At remarkable speed, new methods and techniques are being developed.
However, there is a danger that the wheel is being reinvented and that there is unnecessary duplication of effort across the world. In response, this site offers a systematic way of remote-court innovators and people who work in the justice system to exchange news of operational systems, as well as of plans, ideas, policies, protocols, techniques, and safeguards. By using this site, justice workers can learn from one another’s successes and disappointments. Please do contribute. The idea is that this site is a repository to which users regularly send their news.
The structure and scope of the site will evolve over time, as we come to have a better understanding of what is most useful. Feedback would be warmly welcome.
The service is a joint effort – hosted by the Society for Computers and Law, funded by the UK LawTech Delivery Panel, and supported by Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service. It also builds on the community that was established at the First International Forum on Online Courts, held in London in December 2018, when 300 people from 26 countries came together to talk about using technology to transform the work of courts. None of us imagined then that we would need to change so quickly. But we must seize the moment and come together to accelerate the development of new ways of continuing to deliver just outcomes for court users.
Professor Richard Susskind
Society for Computers and Law
27th March 2020.”
Visit website: https://remotecourts.org/news.htm
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