Law Matters: Resolve Your Small Claims Online
Category: Asset & Debt Recovery
Without much fanfare, the On-Line Court Pilot was rolled out on Friday for public and businesses to use for money claims under £10,000.00. With the usual look of online services provided by the UK Government, including paying vehicle tax, passport office and companies house, the website opening portal is encouragingly familiar, if not inspirational.
HMCTS have been testing the system for a few months (since August last year), and it is still in its ‘beta phase’ meaning it will continue to be developed based on feedback from the brave souls opting to use it rather than the paper option, or to use the established money claims on-line service.
According to HMCTS, of the 1,400 users who tested the service, 80% stated that the service was easy to use.
To many, this is a welcome step for modernisation of our courts and tribunals service which is in much need of investment if the UK is going to continue to have one of the most respected and trusted court systems in the world, supported by a respected, and reliable legal services sector.
Examples of similar systems in the Netherlands and Canada show that there is much to be gained from dealing with simple money claims online and away from the court centres themselves.
There is more reform to come, following on from planned pilots testing mediation, flexible hours for hearings as well as potentially using virtual hearings. It remains to be seen whether these initial steps help solve the fundamental issue of access to justice.
Ellen Yeates heads up the Asset & Debt Recovery Team at Nash & Co Solicitors.
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