Principal Investigator Dr Bridgette Toy-Cronin
Associate Investigator Dr Bridget Irvine
This project is being conducted in collaboration with Associate Investigators from other institutions: Associate Professors Dave Nichols and Sally Jo Cunningham from Computer Science at the University of Waikato and Dr Tatiana Tkacukova from Linguistics at Birmingham City University.
This is a two-year, multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional study that looks to a future where New Zealand will very likely join the rapidly growing international trend of introducing online courts for civil disputes. In anticipation of this likely development, this research aims to lay an empirical foundation for how an online court could support litigants to explain their disputes accurately and clearly. It is only if a system can achieve these goals that it can deliver the oft-touted promise of access to justice, rather than being merely a cost-saving initiative.
This project uses mixed methods to explore how litigants might engage with an online court.
This project is being generously co-funded by the New Zealand Law Foundation’s Information Law and Policy project.
We have collected data from forms filed by litigants under the District Court Rules 2009. We can use this data to determine what communication strategies lawyers and laypeople adopt when explaining a claim. We have also completed laboratory testing to investigate the accuracy and clarity of laypeople and lawyers’ explanations of a dispute to an online court.
The research team are currently analysing and writing up the results of the research and are also exploring various technology solutions that might assist laypeople to clearly explain their disputes to an online court.
The research team presented at the International Online Dispute Resolution Forum in Auckland, and have published a paper in the International Journal on Online Dispute Resolution.