Have you ever doubted whether you should see a lawyer? If the owner does not solve the leak, Youth Care announced a family visit after the sentence Quit for the dear son, your employment contract will not be renewed? And who is your lawyer – is it the insurance company, the lawyer around the corner or does the neighbor who works in town know someone?
Access to justice is an enigma to everyone – and the internet has not been of much help. At the very least, if I’m in doubt whether I should go to the doctor, I open the ‘app de nurse’ on my phone, answer some factual questions and within an hour I have a recommendation from the doctor, chosen by my insurance company. Open seven days a week and in the evening. As a spoiled digital citizen, I’m not even surprised by that.
But that doesn’t apply to ‘rights’. uh is there a right hand a kind of legal first aid in cases of dismissal, debt, divorce, purchase and relief. And there are legal entrepreneurs who are happy to digitally refuse for a fee against your parking fine or WOZ assessment. But the law is complex and the services provided are highly fragmented. And legal advisers are afraid of cold feet. At least that’s what I breathe UVA symposium ‘Towards the digitization of social legal services’ last week. Is the ‘app de jurist’ service like that? latest Becomes? And should such technology be aimed at citizens or service providers? Or on both? The latter, I would say.
By the way, I’m laughing there too, and not the only one, then main speaker Prof Dame Hazel Genn via Zoom from London a Youtube videos shows how the UK judiciary is preparing its citizens for digital law via laptop. Genn is an expert on ‘access to justice’ for the average citizen – his target group is the bottom line. Slum houses, unhealthy, bankrupt, semi-illiterate, no cellphones or tablets, let alone wifi or credit.
The film instructs the summoned citizen to find a quiet place at home, preferably with a WiFi cable, a charged phone, tablet or laptop, a headset, at a desk with all documents within reach. And do housemates want to turn off their connection. Now the British underclass, I think, is even poorer than the Dutch, so all this is middle-class fiction. The client, who was informed, would— no appearing digitally, he thought. What is needed to deliver justice to semi-illiterate citizens without 4G digital access are public video cells in city halls, community centers, and libraries. With headphones, camera, screen. Lockable and orderable.
Wait a moment! They are already there, the Police have 34 unmanned ‘3D declaration counter’ from Zeeland to North Holland in public locations, for live video contact with the government. Homework for the Ministry of Justice and Security: please extend to the entire administration of justice, not just declarations.
Now the UK is more advanced with digital justice than the Netherlands. Since 2016, it has reached 4 million digital cases per year, compared to 1.8 million in the Netherlands – over nine years. I also suspect that there have been severe cuts in the last ten years, both in the administration of justice and legal aid. The court had to hand over 34 percent. It has given digitization a breeze in its sails, after which the pandemic was added to it.
British case law has fifteen instructional videos stand for (digital) court appearanceWith subtitles in Urdu, Welsh or Sign Language. Genn already has somelessons learned” done. The video technology offered must be of high quality to achieve procedural justice for citizens. Communication between lawyers and clients during video sessions seems problematic. Judges and lawyers have to adapt their communication style. And not all citizens are video evidence. Think people with problems in appearance, behavior, character – for whom this ultramodern ‘straight in the closet’ is a truly alienating experience.Therefore, the digitization of law can also increase the gap with citizens instead of narrowing it.
A version of this article also appears on NRC Handelsblad April 2, 2022
A version of this article also appeared on NRC on the morning of April 2, 2022
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