Technology, access to justice and the rule of law report

With the right support from the government, technology can be the key to unlocking access to justice innovation, concludes our report 'Technology, access to justice and the rule of law'.

From improving communication with clients to informing and advising the public, technology can help practitioners provide vital services in the face of increased demand and resource cuts.

The report examines the critical role technological innovation plays in helping everyone have equal access to justice. It also looks at overcoming barriers to innovation and aims to help legal practitioners and firms develop their own initiatives to improve their practice through technology.

It’s based on:

  • an assessment of 50 initiatives
  • qualitative interviews with more than 45 stakeholders
  • an academic literature review

Barriers to improving access to justice

The report found that barriers to improving access to justice through technology and innovation include:

  • funding
  • time, capacity and skills
  • digital and legal literacy
  • access to common data and a lack of trust
  • inequality of resources and a limited number of suitable products
  • regulatory concerns such as GDPR and data protection, professional indemnity insurance and the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s standards and regulations

Our research showed that barriers to adopting technology in the legal sector are significant, but that the benefits outweigh the challenges.

Organisations are overcoming barriers by redeploying their resources to develop solutions for their clients' specific needs.

Our recommendations

We recommend that:

  • the public, private and the third sector should acknowledge technology itself will not make the justice and legal system more accessible, and that technology needs support to develop its potential
  • government should recognise that the success of any technology-based initiative aiming to improve access to justice depends on its users being able to understand it and use it to access legal advice from a qualified solicitor 
  • the advice sector and private practices should share information about the legal technology they have used within their organisations and their evaluations of it

The recommendations in this report present a practical step in the right direction for government and civil society organisations to enable development of technological solutions that can improve access to justice for those with legal needs.

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