A new model of dispute resolution supported by an integrated online and telephone information service should be created to handle civil claims, a human rights group recommended last week.
A report by Justice, Delivering Justice in an age of austerity, suggests that the system would level the playing field for claimants without legal advice, and provide cost savings in the longer term.
The report responds to major cuts to legal aid and cuts to the HM Courts & Tribunals Service budget, which have left individuals unable to enforce their rights.
Its recommendations echo those of the Civil Justice Council in February this year but propose a broader remit for the model, which Justice says could operate in first instance proceedings across civil courts and tribunals.
The model would feature a registrar, who would proactively manage cases and be trained to specialise in particular types of dispute.
Registrars, who would be legally qualified, could strike out a statement of case, refer a case to a judge, undertake mediation or undertake early neutral evaluation.
The report also pushes for an integrated online and telephone service which would provide access to information and advice.
The development of the online service would take two years from the agreement of funding, the report says.
Law Society president Andrew Caplen (pictured) described the proposals as an ‘interesting development’ within the wider debate. However he stressed that technology could be no substitute for legal representation.
‘Quality representation, particularly when one side is represented by a lawyer, is essential. Our 2015 election manifesto emphasises our call for the next government to ensure that every individual has effective access to justice,’ he said.