At the Innovation & Excellence in Court 2017 Conference, attendees were presented with varying concepts of innovation. Some which embraced technology and others which changed the way Courts operate.
The main message that was taken away from the conference was that for any successful change, be it in technology or operations, was the need for strong leadership. Associate Justice Zammit made it clear that with persistence, a real vision for change and an acknowledgement that traditional resources were limited through innovative concepts, real productivity improvements could be realised. Engaging with all stakeholders of the Court structure was key in delivering greater confidence in what was being changed and was complemented by the Civil Procedure Act 2010
Further, Justice Peter McCellan, Chair of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, demonstrated that innovation and proactive leadership was required by the Commission to effectively support survivors - a key function of its scope of operations.
The technology used for public hearings meant it was accessible to all through web streaming, media reporting and remote viewing locations. Direct and regular engagement with media as well as the purpose-built media room meant they were well versed on reporting on such sensitive content. The very personal responses to survivors ensured survivors had a sense of confidence in the Commission. This approach has undoubtedly resulted in better outcomes for those involved.
As we consider these approaches to innovation in two quite different environments, one thing is clear, that leaders and their teams have focused on delivering access to justice to all.
If the focus on access to justice is imperative, then perhaps the rapid change in technology will complement the work that Courts already deliver. Digital disruption has had a significant impact in all aspects of our lives, the way we read, shop and communicate. This change is occurring at a rapid rate. Embracing rather than shirking the challenge that digital change brings will be crucial to delivering long term benefits to the broader judicial system.
Larry Kamener, Boston Consulting Group in his Closing Keynote Address focused on digitisation and Artificial Intelligence as two key drivers that will impact Courts globally in the near future. Kamener suggested that while digitisation still had a long way to go, the benefits it would deliver included:
- improvement in the access to justice;
- the removal or reduction of cost barriers;
- making it more convenient to be involved perhaps by reducing the physical reliance on the Court; and
- serving the needs of the community and in turn improve public perception.
It is evident that Courts are being asked to do more with less. Court Lists continue to grow and as such Judges and Registrars are required to be agile in their delivery of service. Perhaps Artificial Intelligence will complement the work of the judicial system. Artificial Intelligence is the act of machines performing tasks that humans conduct and learning from these interactions.
In the context of the Court system, Artificial Intelligence could be used to help manage routine tasks more efficiently and reduce costs. It will support judicial decision making in so far as shifting through large sets of documents, it will help find the relevant law and it will improve legal search and reasoning. Artificial Intelligence will not replace practitioners it will simply help them make better decisions.
While Artificial Intelligence may change the way people work, it will not replace them. The field of medicine has been using Artificial Intelligence yet doctors still exist. Pilots have not been replaced by robotics in planes, they simply assist in making better decisions. The future will be where people work with machines to augment their own decision making ability.
The quality of leadership and willingness to harness technology will lead the innovation change across the Courts. New technology will present great opportunities. The question is whether leaders will embrace this technology and realise the benefits.
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Written by Emma Barker, Senior Business Development Manager, Law In Order