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Debenhams Ottaway, Hertfordshire’s leading law firm joined forces with technology law firm Bristows, legal technology provider Peppermint and social media firm Talk B to take part in the Online Courts Hackathon as team DO IT Fresh. The Hackathon took place 1-2 July and was led by The Society of Computers and Law, Legal Geek, the Judiciary of England and Wales and Her Majesty’s Court Services. It was hosted by the University of Law in Moorgate.

The creation of an online court was advocated by Lord Justice Briggs in his Civil Courts Structure Review published in July 2016. It is seen as a mechanism for increasing access to justice by creating an intuitive online dispute resolution service that litigants could access without the use of lawyers.

A hackathon is an event that brings groups of designers, coders and other interested parties together to work on software projects.

The Online Court Hackathon gathered approximately 200 people making up circa 30 teams of lawyers and software developers to build a prototype of the new online court over a 24 hour period. As the government invests in development it recognises that capturing ideas and solutions from industry experts is key to leveraging innovations being made in the legal sector.

Luke Tucker Harrison, lead Litigation and Dispute Resolution Partner at Debenhams Ottaway LLP and Vice Chairman of the Commercial Litigation Association led the DO IT Fresh team comments:

“We were delighted to make it into the top nine, this was a fantastic achievement given the high standard of competition. The hackathon was an exciting opportunity to influence the creation of a tool that will provide access to justice to individuals and businesses in an efficient and cost effective manner.

Our team focused on providing tools to small businesses and individuals to enable them to structure their legal arguments through workflow forms so that they weren’t faced with a “blank sheet of paper”. We also created an integrated dispute resolution tool that enabled feedback on the case from a Case Officer, a video based early evaluation hearing with a judge which could be accessed from mobiles and tablets and the facility for online mediation.

Gone are the days where reams of paper and face to face hearings with a judge are required to justly dispose of disputes. Online dispute resolution provides litigants with a quicker and cheaper way of resolving disputes without compromising the quality of the judicial process.”

Peppermint’s CEO Arlene Adams added, “This collaboration between Debenhams Ottaway and Peppermint demonstrates our strong partnership and shared vision to challenge the status quo. The Hackathon was a fantastic vehicle to show how creative thinking and innovative technology can radically change how legal services are delivered.”

  1. Debenhams Ottaway is a multi-service, innovative law firm based in Hertfordshire, known for delivering clients outstanding service and its award winning legal advice. Debenhams Ottaway’s litigation team is described by Chambers 2017 as “esteemed”. They often receive referrals of work from city and national law firms where there is a conflict of interest or where the nature of the case means it would not be proportionate for those firms to run the cases.
  2. The Commercial Litigation Association is an association of professionals in the business of commercial litigation including lawyers, accountants, insolvency practitioner’s judges, mediators, arbitrators and IT professionals. It lobbies for the interests of small business users of commercial litigation and disputes services to ensure access to justice and is a national organization.
  3. Peppermint Technology is a legal practice management software solution built on Microsoft Dynamic CRM and SharePoint platforms.
  4. Talk B is a social media business specialising in Facebook messenger automation for the music industry whose clients include the Bee Gees

See https://www.onlinecourtshackathon.com/

See https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/publications/civil-courts-structure-review-final-report/ and in particular Chapter 6 on page 37 of the report.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.