Legal Profession out in Full Force to Support the Online Courts Hackathon

June 29, 2015

Half of London’s top 20 law firms along with leading UK
universities are competing in the world’s first online courts hackathon this
weekend with teams flying in from as far away as India and Australia. There
were around 400 applicants for the event, which begins at noon on Saturday and
ends at noon on Sunday with a closing address by the Lord Chief Justice.

The Hackathon is being jointly staged by the Society for
Computers and Law, Legal Geek, the Judiciary of England and Wales, and HM
Courts & Tribunals Service. It is being hosted in London at the University
of Law.

A live video of the event is planned via

What are online courts?

The first generation of online courts will involve judges
deciding cases on the basis of evidence and argument submitted electronically.
Their introduction in England and Wales (for civil, family, and tribunal
disputes) will be one of the most significant reforms to the justice system in
the past two centuries. Supported by both the Government and the Judiciary, the
motivation behind online courts is to provide greater access to justice in a
more cost efficient way than the conventional court system. While the
government is leading the transformation (and is investing around £1 billion in
modernising the courts), it is recognised that the design of the online courts
would benefit from the input of the wider communities of lawyers, court users,
law students, and technologists.

What will happen at the hackathon?

The idea of the Hackathon is to bring these communities
together over a 24-hour period and in a friendly and yet competitive spirit, to
invite teams to come up with designs, solutions, systems, and technologies for
various parts of the online court. Participants will be invited to design
various tools to support online courts – for example, tools to help litigants
structure their legal arguments, organise their documents, negotiate
settlements without advisers, improve access to legal advice as well as systems
that will promote open justice and even machine learning solutions that will
help analyse all the data generated by the online courts. Prizes will be
awarded for the best ideas. Pizzas and coffee will be consumed in great
quantities while the teams work through the night.


Professor Richard Susskind OBE, President of the Society of
Computers and Law and one of the online courts pioneers: ‘Online courts are
likely to be the most significant development in our court system since the
nineteenth century, enabling far greater and affordable access to justice. We
are bowled over by the response to the Hackathon.’

Jimmy Vestbirk, founder of Legal Geek: ‘We believe online
courts are the perfect application of technology to improve access to justice.
Legal Geek, the world’s largest community of LawTech startups, is proud to
co-host a hackathon which could generate ideas to shape the future of our court
system. This is a once in a life-time opportunity for students, coders,
designers, legal professionals and innovators to shape the future of online

Susan Acland-Hood, CEO of HM Courts and Tribunals said: ‘We
want to take the best justice system in the world and improve it though new
technology and modern ways of working. Our existing plans for online courts
will help people resolve disputes quickly in ways that suit them but we also
want to work with others who can bring us new ideas. The excellent teams
competing in this event will be contributing to something that really matters –
the delivery of a better justice system for the future.’