From videoconferences to artificial intelligence, from predictive justice to blockchain, the ability of digital technology to transform the public service of justice is considerable. Calls for change are multiplying, as experts describe the French judicial system as being “in crisis”. The aim of this report is not to draft a global reform but to contribute to the general reflection regarding the use of digital tools in improving the quality of French civil justice.
A better understanding of litigants’ expectations…
Prior to analyzing how digital tools can impact the offer of justice by state courts, it is necessary to scrutinize the qualitative aspects of litigants’ expectations. To do so, various innovative tools exist, such as the organization of focus groups or the listening to material on social media. Through these experiments, this work identifies essential characteristics of litigants’ demands with regards to the service provided by the judicial system. They believe justice should fulfil the following criteria: authority, trust, simplicity, loyalty, credibility, accessibility, cost, temporality, predictability, humanity, feasibility, effectiveness, efficiency and entirety.
…for a better response thanks to digital tools.
Building on this knowledge, the report identifies areas in which technological innovation can improve the functioning of this public service. Geographical access to justice could notably evolve via the electronic processing of certain litigations, without the parties having to physically attend court. Indeed, certain appearances could be carried out through videoconferences. As for the trial’s publicity, the recording of judicial debates and their accessibility could be generalized. These developments will necessarily encourage us to rethink the territorial distribution of justice.
Digital tools also transform the handling of judicial information through the analysis and processing of considerable amounts of data, allowed by “Open Data” and artificial intelligence. The use of these new tools should be supervized in order to guarantee equality of access to information among citizens. Moreover, a digital platform connected to other public services could help to improve the organization of legal support and reduce the financial costs of litigations.
Judicial methods will also be challenged by information technologies, such as the introduction of a case before court, trial’s proceedings, hearings, the verdict and its enforcement.
Efficiently guiding the justice system’s transformations
In order to achieve the justice system’s digital transformation, the report identifies a set of “good practices”: high-level teams driven by a spirit of innovation and combining professionals and computer scientists in a single workplace, guiding through a project mode with sufficient autonomy with regards to usual administrative structures, the use of “flexible” methods for a conception based on the users’ expectations.