Problem: In many countries, detailed rules for adjudication procedures exist for courts and similar adjudication bodies. As a justice leader, you might feel that your actions are limited by rigid procedural rules which force people into adversarial dispute resolution methods and repel innovation. Most likely you are frustrated by procedures that create delays, antagonism, confusion and escalating costs.
2013 Trend report p. 37: “According to the Framework for Court Excellence, [court] procedures should fit clients’ needs, attract a high level of user satisfaction, be affordable and accessible and (thus) instil public trust and confidence. Just as great car companies sell great cars, great courts distinguish themselves by delivering excellent procedures. Courts let people file claims, present their case, have a dialogue during a court hearing and move towards a final decision that works. The way they organise this interaction is key to their success. Somehow, they have to make moves from poor, mediocre or good procedures to really excellent ones; free from delay, corruption and unnecessary costs; full of solutions for the problems presented; loaded with recognition for each different moral perspective.”
Such rules of procedure describe in minute detail what litigants and courts have to do in order to reach a legal outcome. Roles in formal procedures are primarily reserved for legal professionals. Rules and procedures of adjudication are usually difficult to change due to regulation, habit, professional or organisational culture. Rigid procedures impede innovations and the arrival of new service delivery models such as one-stop shop procedures or problem-solving courts from entering the legal sector. Procedures that were deemed as means towards due process grew into self-serving ends.
Innovations in justice provide options that justice leaders like you can use to deliver better experiences and better outcomes. Several studies shed light on how court rules and procedures impact innovation. Ideally, new types of courts, court interventions and court procedures would be proposed, tested and implemented continuously. Such procedures are based on knowledge about what works. Their key value is the promise to provide fair and effective solutions for citizens.
Below, a justice leader can read about procedural innovations that make advancement towards such procedures that work for the parties involved. A justice system that enables people-centred justice should stimulate courts to experiment with and practice “what works”.
But how does a justice leader innovate a procedure in such a way that it solves people’s problems? You must start from outcomes that people want from dispute resolution.
It is time to redesign justice procedures. Innovation of justice services focuses on people and achieving outcomes that allow people to continue with their lives. Current procedures and innovative solutions should be evaluated against outcome-based criteria. What could such a system look like, based on this research and case studies?