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Working towards a justice system that is accessible, affordable, efficient, fair and just for all New Zealanders.

The Legal Issues Centre is an interdisciplinary research centre based at the University of Otago. We conduct independent, world-leading research on New Zealand’s justice system in five key areas:

  • Accessibility
  • Affordability
  • Efficiency
  • Fairness
  • Accuracy

Our research focuses on the civil justice system and is carried out in accordance with our Centre Charter. 


Call for lawyers to test New Zealand’s potential online courts

The Legal Issues Centre is calling on lawyers to participate in research about the accessibility of potential online courts in New Zealand.

The arrival of online courts may see a significant rise in claimants appearing without a lawyer by their side. We therefore need to understand how people translate disputes into the language of justice without legal help. This will help us assess how online courts can deliver justice for unrepresented claimants.

We are comparing how lay people and lawyers describe disputes in an online court. We are asking them to conduct mock client interviews and file claims in a mock online court, which is based on an operational Canadian model.

If you are a New Zealand lawyer with 3 years post-qualification litigation experience, you can sign up to participate here [].

As online courts could profoundly impact access to justice, as well as the work of the legal profession, we would like to see as many lawyers as possible participating.

The research results will be useful in a number of ways. The language will be analysed by a senior linguistics researcher who specialises in lay litigant communication. Specialists in Human-Computer Interaction will use the results to develop and test new approaches to assist people in communicating their disputes effectively in an online portal.

Read more about our research project, Accessibility in an Online Court.