The technology of access to justice: Rechtwijzer 2.0

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I am excited to go to Austin and sit in a SXSW panel to discuss Justice 2.0. Great to share the podium with my friend and partner Colin Rule, founder of Modria and the “godfather of ODR” and Beth Trent of CPR, the leading organisation that helps global business and lawyers resolve complex commercial disputes.

As a big fan of the groundbreaking work Colin and Beth have done in the area of online platforms for consumer and business disputes that outperform courts, I see how ODR gradually changes the world of dispute resolution. During our panel, I will highlight an element of Justice 2.0 that is a bit closer to the justice system: a justice platform called Rechtwijzer 2.0.

At HiiL, we partner with the Dutch Legal Aid Board and Modria to develop an access to justice platform that builds on www.rechtwijzer.nl, the earlier diagnosis and triage website we built (Corry van Zeeland is the actual brains behind what others say might be a gamechanger). The Legal Aid Board has been working on www.rechtwijzer.nl as of 2007. This application offers legal diagnosis and triage, basic information about rights and obligations and concrete tools and other support for solving legal problems.

Rechtwijzer 2.0 takes this a few steps further. It offers a platform for legal information, advice and services, some of which are automated. It enables people to work on solving their legal problems in their own words, at their own pace, from their own homes. Together with the other person. With professional service providers readily available to help them. To mediate, advise, decide or to review the end result. Lawyers and adjudicators working with Rechtwijzer 2.0 offer their services online, unbundled and on a pay as you go basis against fixed fees.

Rechtwijzer 2.0 thus is a justice platform that builds on the actual behaviour of people with a legal problem. As legal needs studies show us, people with a legal problem across the globe show more or less similar behaviour: most people first look for information about their problem, rights, obligations, and options for solving their problems. People often first try to solve their legal problem themselves and seek help if this does not work. They generally want support with contacting the other party, communicating, negotiating. And also have a need for neutral information that help them determine a fair result.

Initially, Rechtwijzer 2.0 focuses on divorce cases in The Netherlands, but the platform can be easily configured to other problems and other countries. When we design justice processes on the basis of what works rather than on the basis of normative rules, international standards, best practices and even standardisation all of a sudden become within reach.

Justice 2.0 for me is much about designing these types of justice platforms. Justice as a platform that starts from the behaviour of people, the support they need and the things that work for this.

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