Lawyers should be removed from the small claims process, according to Kennedys.
The firm has said that technology is set to play a central role in the future of legal services and the delivery of justice. To prepare for this, it says a review should be conducted to consider whether lawyers are needed at all within parts of the legal process. Kennedys believes that legal professionals should only be used when unavoidable, helping their clients to become independent from, rather than dependent, upon lawyers.
“It should now be possible to create a 21st century, IT-based process that entirely removes lawyers from both sides in small claims matters,” said Richard West, a partner at Kennedys.
“So long as appropriate safeguards are in place to ensure that justice is done, and is seen to be done, and that neither side can exploit the process; the time is right to seek to create a fair, balanced and automated process for such cases.”
West says that such safeguards may include retaining the option for parties to instruct lawyers to conduct the automated process – but only on the basis that the principle of no costs recovery in such cases is retained.
“Some policymakers and regulators will continue to struggle to fully understand the far-reaching consequences of the digital age that we now live it. Private actors within the industry therefore have an extraordinary opportunity to engage with each other and with Government to help define the justice frameworks of tomorrow,” he added.
The firm’s call for better use of technology in low value claims comes as the personal injury sector braces itself for a battle over the Government’s plans to raise the small claims limit. Kennedys says that, if enacted, the proposals will challenge convention and disrupt existing legal business models.