From ODR to Remote Courts: a story in six acts and much writing

Sometimes, it is good to look back and take stock of where you are. This is a collection of articles which cover the history of what we might now call ‘remote courts’ through close on five years. Just looking at the titles brings back the journey that we have travelled. For more detail, take a dip inside one or two of the articles. They are organised on the basis that this recent history can be divided into six distinct ages – though, of course, these and the content of individual articles overlap: allocation may be arbitrary at the margins.

We began with the emerging concept of Online Dispute Resolution as, originally, a particular version of Alternative Dispute Resolution – informal, often voluntary and exploratory. Within this context, E-Bay gave us the example of an automated decision-making process for dealing with disputes between users. From this, emerged the second age spearheaded by the revolutionary Rechtwijzer developed by a consortium of the Dutch Legal Aid Board, Modria (the software firm that evolved from the work that Colin Rule and others did for E-Bay) and the Hague Institute for Innovation of Law. This was a breakthrough product – through the clarity of its design, its guided pathways, its assistance with online mediation – which still marks a highpoint. It failed for reasons discussed in the articles – in my view, by the setting of impossible financial targets. The baton was then taken up by British Columbia’s Civil Resolution Tribunal which has carefully expanded its online jurisdiction as it has maintained the revolutionary element of a free Solution Explorer designed to encourage settlement of disputes. In turn, this inspired Lord Briggs, a Court of Appeal judge then of England and Wales, to go and see it and to write a report which argued for his jurisdiction to follow suit. It did so – but not quite as asked. Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service announced and then implemented an ambitious digital reform programme based on funds from court sales and with additional goals relating to savings on staff and running costs. Finally, under the pressure of Covid 19, courts over the globe struggled to follow this lead and operate digitally as best they could. The difference between where we began – and the articles listed under ODR – is the formality. Remote courts are, as the phrase suggests, part of the formal court structure in a way that the original ODR initiatives were not. We have yet to see where this process ends up but it certainly makes it a good time to look back.

  1. ODR

Is ODR ADR? Professor Carrie Menkel-Meadow, May 2016:

ODR and Access to Justice, May 2016:

ODR: a time for celebration and procedural standards, Professor Nancy Walsh, June 2016: Bringing Online Dispute Resolution to Family Courts in the United States, Colin Rule, July 2016:

ODR: the onward march as seen from The Hague, July 2016: ODR:

ODR: songs of innocence and experience, Mark Madden, July 2016:

Online Courts: enough with the tinkering, Mark Madden, July 2016:

Small Claims and ODR: Victoria’s model approach, October 2017: 

ODR and Digital Assistance: home truths and overseas inspirations, November 2016:

Online Dispute Resolution, Online Legal Services and the Question of Leadership, December 2017:

Digital Justice: Technology and the Internet of Disputes by Ethan Katsch and Orna Rabinovich-Levy: a review.

September 2017: Grappling with the ‘billion dollar question’: does ODR affect outcomes, October 2017:

Online Dispute Resolution and Access to Justice, May 2018:

Access to Justice ODR Audit – adding one more dimension, Darin Thompson, June 2018:

Design, Users and Court-integrated ODR, June 2018:

ODR: more on key performance indicators for access to justice, Richard Moorhead, June 2018:

ODR in the Courts: surveying the field, December 2018:

ODR in the Courts: in prison the one time it could have been the champion of the world, December 2018:

Online Dispute Resolution: an international snapshot, Ellie Brown, May 2019:

  1. The Impact of the Rechtwijzer

Goodbye, Rechtwijzer: hello Justice42, March 2017:

The Forward March of Digital Halted: or only checked? April 2017:

Classical Lessons from the Rechtwijzer: a conversation with Professor Barendrecht, June 2017:

Rechtwijzer: why online supported dispute resolution is hard to implement, Maurits Barendrecht, June 2017:

Team Rechtwijzer: the breakup continues, June 2017:

The Rechtwijzer Rides Again, December 2017:

The Rechtwijzer rises from the ashes: an interview with Laura Kistemaker of Justice 42, February 2020:

  1. British Columbia’s Civil Resolution Tribunal

BC’s Civil Resolution Tribunal’s First Decision: move along, not much to see here, November 2016:

British Columbia on the frontier: the Civil Resolution Tribunals’ Solution Explorer takes a step forward, Febraury  2017:

British Columbia sets the Bar, October 2017:

Small Claims: exploring solutions, October 2017:

Online Dispute Resolution in the Justice System: ten points on not ‘paving the cowpath”, December 2018:

  1. The Briggs Report

Online Courts and Offline Assistance: the English judge California Dreamin”, July 2016:

ODR: if you read only one judicial report, read this one, August 2016:

An Online Solutions Court: Yes, But … August 2016:

  1. HMCTS implementation

Transforming our justice system, September 2016:

Digital Exclusion and a Small Claims Online Court, November 2016:

Online Dispute Resolution and I, Daniel Blake, November 2016:

Online Divorce takes a step forward: pity about the PR, January 2017:

Modernising the Courts: questionable values, insufficient irony and problematic presentation, April 2017:

Online Courts: unintended consequences, unconsidered transparency, May 2017:

We Can See Clearly Now … online courts and disruption, July 2017:

Online Benefits to Online Courts: ‘There may be trouble ahead’, July 2017:

Online Courts and the Fear of Managed Decline, September 2017:

Her Majesty’s Court Service: trouble ahead fro the online criminal court, October 2017:

The Online Solutions Court: follow the money, December 2017:

Digitalising Courts is More than a Management Issue, February 2018,

The Danger of the Unexamined: courts, evaluation and Agile, February 2018:

Online Courts in England and Wales: six proposals to see off a gathering storm, March 2018: Online Courts: more doubts in High Places, March 2018:

If you read one report on ODR and digitalising tribunals, read this one, April 2018:

Court Modernisation: Court service spins response to Audit Office report, May 2018:

Digitalisation and the Courts of England and Wales, May 2018:

Court-based ODR: the need for an access to justice audit, May 2018:

Assistance with Digital ODR: singing from one song sheet, June 2018:

ODR and Assisted Digital Support: at last some research, July 2018:

Online Courts: identifying and evaluating the impact on access to justice, July 2018:

Measuring to know and measuring to manage: an ODR access to justice audit, Joe Tomlinson, August 2018:

Online Small Claims Court in England and Wales: ‘no real benefits to users without lawyers on full retainer’, August 2018:

Online Dispute Resolution, Tribunals and Measurement of Success, August 2018:

Court Modernisation in England and Wales: decoding two new reports, October 2018:

Online Court Plans: now you see them – now you don’t, October 2018:

HM Courts and Tribunals: today’s public user event, November 2018:

Access to Justice and Modernising the Courts: the sound of one hand clapping, February 2019:

Court Modernisation: research, consultancy and measurement, February 2019:

ODR hearings: HMCTS approach under fire from US example and UK investigation, April 2019:

Court Modernisation: the judges’ expectations, April 2019:

Court Modernisation, Empiricism and Digital Exclusion, April 2019:

Tribunals and Continuous Online Resolution: the devil in the detail, May 2019: :

Court Modernisation and Communications, May 2019:

Court Modernisation, the National Audit Office and the Death Zone, September 2019:

Court Reform Evaluation: from Bentham to Byrom, October 2019:

Digitalisation of the Courts and Litigants in Person, March 2020:

‘Justice must not trump efficiency’: remote courts, Covid 19 and the Justice Committee, May 2020:

This Too Shall Pass: remote courts, a transparency charter and open justice post-Covid, May 2020:

Remote court hearings: research and requirements, June 2020:

Remote Courts: a must-read, June 2020:

Remote Courts: more research, more consultation and more Ministerial involvement, June 2020:

  1. Remote courts 

Victoria bids to join the online Premiere League, May 2017:

The Online Solutions Court: decision trees in the desert, December 2017:

Online Small Claims: three more jurisdictions enter the filed – in Utah, Ohio and Victoria, Australia, September 2018:

Online Courts and the Future of Justice: the latest from Richard Susskind, December 2019:

Richard Susskind and the Young Legal Aid Lawyers of the North, April 2020:

Remote Justice, Young Lawyers and International Lessons, May 2020:

Remote Courts and Fair Trials, July 2020:

Richard Susskind in conversation – remote courts need a Royal Commission level of investigation, July 2020:

Remote Courts and the consequences of ending ‘practical obscurity, July 2020:

Video Court Hearings Evaluation: cautious, positive and partial, August 2020:

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