Chair: Dr Nora Ni Loideain, Director and Lecturer in Law, Information Law and Policy Centre, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London
In the midst of broad modernisation reforms within the UK courts and court services, this seminar seeks to generate insight and thinking into the impact such reforms may have on equality, fairness and access to justice. Such reforms include the provision of online and virtual courts, particularly for small civil claims. One of the key underlying rationales behind these reforms are to relieve the current burden on UK civil courts, which currently deal with around two million cases a year, as well as the drop in provisions of legal aid as a result of austerity measures. However, the use of digital technologies in the justice sector has not always been fair, as witnessed with systems like Compass in the US which displayed racial discrimination and bias in adjudicating bail recidivism. In light of such concerns, this seminar seeks to engage with the challenges to access, equality and fairness, that the broad modernisation reforms to the UK courts and justice system could potentially cause. We hope to consider issues such as: Do we know enough about the potential impact on marginalised communities and vulnerable individuals of digital justice to move forward so quickly with such reforms? What effects might online courts have for the legal profession? How can we ensure that the provision of such services remain transparent and open?
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