England: Susskind calls for cautious uptake of online court

Professor Richard Susskind

Professor Richard Susskind has called for a slow and modest introduction of an online court, Legal Futures reports.

Delivering the Society for Computers and Law’s (SCL) 25th anniversary annual lecture, he said the OC should be “piloted and researched” and that its supporters should “show restraint”.

Professor Susskind headed up the Civil Justice Council advisory group which lent its support to online dispute resolution last February.

He said: “Fundamentally we’re suggesting as basic a change to the justice system as we’ve had for many hundreds of years… that we may be going too quickly and too ambitiously.”

He added: “I fear… that in the end we’ll go for one big bang. We need to show restraint. I really feel we need to go at a more measured, modest pace and this will allow us to have coherent and important public debate about the long-term impact of this technology.”

Professor Susskind added that OCs are “tremendously promising” and that “no one seems to be offering a credible alternative narrative”.

Warning lawyers that they need to adapt, he cited the incursions into legal work being made by the “big four” accountancy firms, saying: “Strong though the top-100 legal brands may be, they’re not as strong as the big four. Most boards are populated by people of an accounting and finance background who recognise these brands as unimpeachable.”

Earlier this year, Allen & Overy teamed up with Deloitte to launch a digital derivatives compliance system, “MarginMatrix”. Professor Susskind said it was “fundamentally disruptive”, adding: “Many law firms around the world… assumed that these new regulations would be a feeding frenzy for years… system is replacing the work that lawyers might reasonably have thought they’d be undertaking in bringing these regulations into force.”

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