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A UK judge imagines an online court without lawyers

Technically Incorrect: One way to reform the British justice system, the judge says, would be to cut legal costs by cutting out the folks known for their fees.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Better justice online?

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It surely has its appeal.

You're in a dispute over money. It's not a vast amount of money, but sometimes it's precisely these sorts of disputes that incite the highest emotions.

You feel cheated, robbed.

But then you have to hire a lawyer to defend you. Which is a cost and guarantees you nothing.

So Lord Justice Briggs, a senior British judge, has come up with a new solution: an online court for civil cases featuring claims of less than £25,000 (around $32,850).

This online court is part of his recommendations for reforming the British justice system. Yes, the one that Brits are always telling you is perfect.

The idea is that there would be user-friendly rules and that lawyers would be largely, or even entirely, superfluous.

London's Times quotes the judge's report as saying this computer court would provide "effective access to justice without having to incur the disproportionate cost of using lawyers."

There's another characteristic of an online court that moves the judge. He says it would be "less adversarial, more investigative."

Perhaps the lord justice has yet to acquaint himself with the interpersonal and expository skills of many who frequent Twitter and other internet forums.

It's unclear how the online mechanism would work. Would participants simply upload all relevant papers to an official site, in order for them to be reviewed by a judge?

As the Law Gazette reported, Briggs has earlier mused about a three-stage process -- triage, conciliation and final judgment -- in which there might be some lawyer involvement.

A spokesman for Britain's Judicial Communications Office told me: "There is little detail I can give on the specifics of how an online court would work."

The idea of an online "Judge Judy" affair is, however, enticing. Somehow, you can believe that there would be less obfuscation and legal mumb0-jumboing.

This doesn't mean the result would necessarily be more just, of course. Perhaps, though, the online process would make participants feel it was more just.

And we know that, at heart, the web was created just to make us feel better.

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