Sage words from Northern Ireland

Behold, Paragraph 4.14 of the draft report of the Review of Civil and Family Justice in Northern Ireland led by the Rt Hon Lord Justice Gillen which was published today:

In particular, we feel there is much to be said for the view expressed to us by Professor Roger Smith OBE, freelance researcher and writer, that we should monitor closely developments in the Rechtwijzer and British Columbia systems of online dispute resolution. It is still relatively early days in its development in the family justice arena.  It needs careful peer reviewing and informed critical analysis, perhaps, before we would adopt it wholescale into our family justice system, save in no fault divorce – a task which could be well researched and crystallized by the Family Justice Board.

Oh, that such caution would be shared across the Irish Sea. ODR is undoubtedly the future. The Rechtwijzer and the Civil Resolution  Tribunal are world-leading innovations. But, the performance of these existing projects needs to be evaluated and lessons learnt on what works and what does not. Postings will follow on the English equivalent of Lord Justice Gillen’s report (by Lord Justice Briggs). This too confirms the importance of the Rechtwijzer and the CRT but suggests that the English Ministry of Justice tends to a more gung ho view, at least in relation to the future of small claims determination. The danger is evident. Success will be assumed before implementation and physical court provision sold off before evaluation.

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