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Access to Justice - Fact or Fiction? The 2019 Conference

Access to Justice - Fact or Fiction? The 2019 Conference


On the 15th October 2019 some of the industry’s biggest influencers came together for the Civil Court Users Associations (CCUA) annual conference to present: ‘Access to Justice. Fact or Fiction?’. To mark the 31st anniversary of the event, the conference returned to Birmingham Council House to host delegates and sponsors including representatives from the Ministry of Justice, HMCTS, solicitors and the enforcement industry; to name a few. The conference largely focused on the digitalisation of the online court system with keynote speakers, Carmen Zabarauckas and Shannon Salter representing the Tribunal Transformation Initiative and the Civil Resolution Tribunal, British Columbia, Canada. 

With a three-year head start over the UK, Carmen and Shannon discussed the importance of understanding the pain points of every end user to create an online service accessible to all. Using the motto ‘nothing is perfect’, they challenge the status quo and as a result have produced a platform that is continuously improving; providing access to justice for their stakeholders. 

Susan Acland-Hood, Chief Executive, HMCTS addressed the reform and the Ministry’s developments in modernising the courts & tribunal service with a digital platform for online claims. Discussions largely echoed ideas presented by Carmen and Shannon, including updates on how fundamental barriers to access have been removed. Susan talked around her decision to develop a platform internally with experts, rather than an ‘off-the-shelf’ model, like British Colombia. The benefits of this include rapid development, adaptability and system intelligence. 

Other speakers included Dr Victoria McCloud, Master of the Senior Courts, Queen’s Bench Division, High Court, who presented her views on the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in effective dispute resolution. And Barristers Matthew Richardson and Lucy McCormick of Henderson Chambers who, in turn, provided discussion on cyber-crime and the law for ‘self-driving’ vehicles.

Concluding the conference was a question time panel which provided interesting debates regarding AI in the courts and the role of the judge, the civil court process, enforcement fees and future developments to champion access to justice for all users.

The CCUA’s objective is to a positive influence on the future of the court service. working with the Ministry of Justice and HMTCS to deliver an improved civil court service for all stakeholders. The annual conference brings together users of the civil court service to provide valuable insight, information and updates on the latest industry developments. With special thanks to the sponsors of this years’ conference – BW Legal, HCEOA, Registry Trust Limited, LineTime. Without these sponsors, the event would not be possible.

You can read up on the consultations The CCUA has responded to here, find out information about CCUA membership here or the Annual Conference 2020 by emailing Claire at

Published on: November 1, 2019