Policy report

Design for justice: How design and technology can help to deliver justice better

Justice Courts Information resources management Legal services Digital communications Access to justice Australia

Many citizens find themselves facing the legal system when they are at their most vulnerable. And, even at the best of times, it’s not the easiest system with which to engage. Cases are seen in person, lawyers are busy and not always personable and the system appears to be full of delays. Even in small cases, court administration has an unwieldy amount of paperwork and procedure.

We think it’s time this changed. And we think that technology and design are well placed to drive this. We think more of the legal journey should be designed around users, including plaintiffs, witnesses and accused persons, in order to improve accessibility, accountability and engagement with the legal process.

We also think that the sector needs to be faster to adopt new and emerging technologies. Despite the diversity of courts in Australia, all are facing the same challenge—adapting to the age of digital technology. No modern court can continue into the 21st century having its information systems or operations based on paper.

People are now familiar with, and expect, mobile and flexible services. They book doctor’s appointments through apps and resolve problems with services like banks and airlines online, sometimes instantly. If government complaints bodies, dispute resolution services, and the justice system fail to adapt, there is a risk that these institutions will lag behind community needs and expectations.

This paper expands on these issues in what we hope will be a broader discussion around how service design and technology can push governments, policy makers, lawyers and institutions to rethink this system. In doing so, we hope we will achieve greater efficiency, accessibility and equity—which we think will have consequences well beyond the justice sector.

We have divided this report into two parts: the first half contains policies we believe the sector should adopt and the second contains tips and talking points for the different players in the legal space.

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