The Bright Brave Future for Legal Services

Sir James Munby - President of the Family Division recently addressed the Family Law Bar Association informing them that the Courts Modernisation Programme will take place over the next 4 years to create the Digital Court of the Future.

In the future Court proceedings will be issued by completion of an online Questionnaire.  By early 2017 digital online divorce and digital online probate processes will become operational.

The recently confirmed closure of 86 Courts across England and Wales is just the start of the envisaged future where Court Hearings in Court Rooms within Court Buildings will become the exception rather than the rule.

How will this digital revolution operate in practice?  Judges, Barristers, Solicitors, Cafcass, Local Authorities and Experts can all be linked electronically - this happens already for many Directions and Preliminary Hearings - but witness testimony still takes place at a Final Hearing in a Court Room.  Will witnesses attend specially equipped test centres so that their evidence giving can be observed?

Might this progress eventually sound the death knell for the majority of Judges who are replaced by a Computer that is programmed to consider the evidence and determine a case in accordance with the law? 

Will it only be those cases where decisions involve a degree of discretion that are human Judge determined?  Or is  A.I. the real future?  Will robots programmed to have feelings determine who a child will live with and how much time they spend with either parent?  How do we feel about a robot deciding who should keep the house? 

When faced with the prospect of a computer or robot determining how humans live their lives will those humans finally recognise the benefit of sitting round a table with their ex partner/spouse to sort out a way forward and reach an agreement that works for them and their family.

Posted on: 02/03/2016

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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