Leading accountant warns on dangers of online court
Roger Isaacs, a partner at Milsted Langdon LLP, a leading chartered accountancy firm in the South West and London, has warned of the possible dangers of an online court.
On Wednesday, Lord Justice Briggs published his Civil Court Structure Review, which included a recommendation that an online court should be established for use by lay people with “minimum assistance from lawyers.”
Under the plans set out by Lord Justice Briggs, money cases valued at less than £25,000 would automatically go before the online court where the merits of a case would initially be assessed as part of a triage process. If the case cannot be resolved at that stage, it will then go before a judge for determination.
Roger Isaacs, who specialises in forensic accounting and is a qualified mediator, said: “The substantial reductions in Legal Aid mean that access to justice is increasingly difficult for all but the wealthiest individuals. For that reason, anything that can make the provision of justice more efficient and affordable is to be welcomed.”
He added: “That said, there is little doubt that the proposals for an online court are driven by cost-cutting motives. In this context, it is not the move to an internet-based system that is of concern per se, or even the possibility of dispensing with lawyers – whose services those with very small claims tend not to be able to afford in the firm place – but what would be troubling would be if disputes were to be assessed by anyone other than a member of the judiciary.”
Lord Justice Briggs’ recommendations will now be consider by the government, senior judges and HM Courts and Tribunal Service.