July 27, 2021
“The Committee is right to highlight the impact of the rising numbers of litigants in person and to call for greater support. One of the key aims of the HMCTS Court Reform Programme was to improve access to justice. The programme cannot achieve this aim unless new systems collect better data about litigants in person- both to understand their needs and design effective policy to meet them. Better data is also crucial to model the impact of litigants in person on the court system and the backlog. This data is needed urgently to allow the MoJ to make the business case to Treasury for additional funding for legal advice and representation.”
July 26, 2021
Automated Decision Making (“ADM”) and Assisted Decision Making (“ASDM”) systems are widely used to support decision making across the public sector. When deployed appropriately and lawfully, the adoption of these technologies offers the potential to improve the speed and consistency of decision-making whilst generating significant savings for the taxpayer. However, recent experiences in immigration, policing, welfare and education have highlighted the risks and limitations associated with the use of ADM/ADSM systems. These risks, if unaddressed, can undermine rights, damage trust in public sector bodies and generate costly litigation. Dr Natalie Byrom, TLEF Director of ResearchTLEF's response argues that existing legal frameworks are complex, piecemeal and provide insufficient clarity about whether, when or how ADM/ASDM systems can lawfully be deployed by public bodies.
Existing law creates uncertainty and increases the risk that ADM/ASDM systems will be deployed inappropriately, with deleterious consequences for individuals, public bodies and the taxpayer. Mechanisms for seeking redress are both complex and expensive to access, and the actual redress available limited. Dr Natalie Byrom, TLEF Director of ResearchTLEF's response argues that to develop effective solutions, The Law Commission should examine and learn from national international approaches to regulating public sector use of ADM/ASDM systems. In identifying models of best practice on which to base the Law Commission’s approach, primacy should be given to those frameworks that can be demonstrated to:
July 21, 2021
“Sharing data generated by the operation of the courts and tribunals can play a critical role in delivering open justice, improving public understanding, supporting evidence-based policy making and catalysing new legal service models. The digitisation of justice systems in England and Wales and worldwide provides the catalyst and infrastructure to fundamentally rethink the way data about the justice system is collected, stored, and shared. It also forces us to confront the tensions between open justice and privacy, which have historically been managed by the effort and expense involved in accessing information from paper- based systems. We commissioned Dr Townend to help us understand what England and Wales might learn from data sharing practices in other common-law jurisdictions” Dr. Natalie Byrom, Director of ResearchThe research was conducted from May-August 2020 via literature review and interviews with 40 key individuals across the jurisdictions. Interviewees came from a range of different professional backgrounds, including academia, court services, legal technology, and access to justice organisations. The literature review included academic and policy materials as well as court service and legal information websites. The authors considered both higher and lower courts in regional and federal jurisdictions and examined the principles and practices of existing systems.
“Contemporary justice systems are complex and messy as a result of anachronistic structures and rules that have evolved since the medieval period. Inevitably, this means ‘justice system data’ – that is the information generated by the process of justice – is equally complex and messy, with a hybrid of policies and laws governing its collection, storage and dissemination. Across the three jurisdictions, we found a lacuna in terms of policies for access to justice system data, and a complex web of legal and ethical arrangements between a variety of justice system actors.” Dr. Judith Townend, report authorThe research found that whilst there is a common understanding across the jurisdictions of the nature and importance of justice system data, policies and processes for managing and sharing data have not been purposively designed. In opening up justice data, challenges and tensions across the jurisdictions were also exposed: the impact of legacy practices; the under-investment in and a decentralised approach to technological reform; a data deficit for user and case experience; a tension between privacy and transparency in the provision of court records containing personal data; and a lack of accountability measures to ensure the effective management of justice system data.
“There is a need for clear, public policies setting out the differing roles of the executive, court service, judiciary and third-party providers in managing justice system data. These policies should include robust accountability mechanisms, including appropriate routes of application and appeal for accessing justice data that is not already in the public domain. Sustained and meaningful engagement with court-users and the public in developing these processes is required” Dr. Judith Townend, report authorThe findings and their implications will be discussed at a free public launch event today chaired by Joshua Rozenberg QC. Registration is still open and tickets can be accessed here. Read the report Copies of “Justice system data: a comparative study” can be accessed here A summary of the key findings and recommendations can be accessed here Report author Dr. Judith Townend has written a guest blog for TLEF launching the research which can be accessed here. All documents and accompanying materials, including a supporting spreadsheet and reference library can be accessed from the report page here. For more information contact TLEF Director of Research Dr. Natalie Byrom: natalie.byrom@theLEF.org
July 12, 2021
Alex Temple has joined The Legal Education Board as a Governor.Alex is a qualified solicitor working for Bindmans Solicitors on their Public Law and Human Rights team. He trained at Just for Kids Law, specialising in education and youth justice. Upon qualifying, he worked in both law and policy to bring about positive change for children missing education. At Just for Kids Law, he designed and launched the School Exclusions Hub, a web-based toolkit to improve access to justice for young people facing exclusion from school. Matthew Smerdon, TLEF CEO says: “We are delighted to welcome Alex as a Governor of the Foundation. Alex was part of the 2016 cohort of the Justice First Fellowship and has since gone on successfully to forge a career as a social justice lawyer. The Foundation chose to recruit a Governor from the JFF alumni to provide additional perspectives to the board, particularly from someone at an early stage in their career who is working in a frontline legal advice role.”