Briggs presses ahead with Online Court and challenges profession to get to grips with unbundling
Lord Justice Briggs published his final report on the structure of the civil courts and retained his strong support for the creation of an online court for claims worth up to £25,000 – which he said should be called the Online Solutions Court – although he has shifted position to say that parties should be able to recover a limited amount of legal costs.
But he has challenged solicitors and barristers to overcome the difficulties they see with providing unbundled advice, rather than full retainers, in lower-value cases.
In a report that largely confirmed the views set out in his interim report in January, Briggs LJ said: “If [my 62 recommendations] are all substantially implemented, then the essentially high quality of the civil justice service provided by the courts of England and Wales will be greatly extended to a silent community to whom it is currently largely inaccessible, and both restored and protected against the weaknesses and threats which currently affect it.”
In the 299-page report, the judge said it was “not a design objective of the Online Court to exclude lawyers. The underlying rationale is that whereas the traditional courts are only truly accessible by, and intelligible to, lawyers, the new court should as far as possible be equally accessible to both lawyers and LiPs [litigants in person].”