An all-night ‘hackathon’ in a secret London location will kick off the process of designing the planned online court, the judiciary revealed today. An announcement said the judiciary is joining forces with the Society for Computers and Law and technology law community Legal Geek to stage the event. 

According to the event website, the Online Court Hackathon will run from noon on 1 July and last for 24 hours. Teams will be invited 'in a friendly and yet competitive spirit' to come up with 'designs, solutions, systems, and technologies for online courts'.

Hackathons originated in the US as part of the so-called 'cyberpunk' culture of the 1990s. The idea is to bring together interested parties and computer coders to crack a particular problem, traditionally fuelled by fast food. The judiciary appears to be attempting to emulate the culture, with the announcement stating that 'pizzas and coffee will be consumed in great quantities'. It warns 'we expect most teams to work through the night, certainly the techies'.

Richard Susskind OBE

Professor Richard Susskind OBE

Participants will be invited to design tools to support online courts – for example, to help litigants structure their legal arguments, organise their documents, negotiate settlements without advisers, as well as systems that will promote ‘open justice’ and machine learning solutions that will help analyse all the data generated by the online courts.

One of the scheme's backers, Professor Richard Susskind OBE, president of the Society of Computers and Law, said: 'Online courts are likely to be the most significant development in our court system since the nineteenth century, enabling far greater and affordable access to justice. This is a great opportunity to contribute to the design of online court'.