08 Dec 2023
by Bryn Coles, John Cheal

Modernising the Justice System

Interactions with the justice system can be daunting.  For many of us, these interactions are infrequent and associated with trauma or periods of great stress, whilst technology will not address the root causes of trauma or stress, a clear and simple way to understand what you need to do, where you are in the journey and what is happening next can go a long way to reduce the additional mental burden of court appearances and other justice system events. Customer Experience and User Experience lessons can be learnt from other B2C and G2C services to make big improvements to citizen experience within judicial processes. By combining modern data driven service platforms with new cognitive computing (GenAI) capabilities, authorities can transform citizen experiences, independent of legacy platform limitations. 

The justice system is complex, with many stakeholder groups. Scheduling court proceedings requires the coordination of a large group of stakeholders (defendants, jurors, witnesses, judges, barristers, clerks), facilities (courtrooms, holding cells), services (defendant security, transportation) and evidential data (trial bundles and other documentation). A change in the status of any one of these elements can result in rescheduling and often, stakeholders are left with little or no notice of changes to hearing dates and venues. Whilst modernisation of court systems is well underway, we would urge authorities to go further, to provide more proactive, personalised citizen engagement, using modern data driven solutions. Recent cognitive computing developments offer a game changing opportunity to deliver a vastly improved judicial user experience whilst reducing the burden on court administrators.  

As we are seeing across other government departments and with enterprise customers, initial GenAI use cases focus on citizen experience improvements, intelligent chat bots that can support people in navigating complex legal procedures and simplify information, presenting guidance in plain language. Cognitive computing solutions can also support the transformation of court proceedings by, for example, enabling low-cost real-time transcription and summarisation of proceedings. London Victims Commissioner Claire Waxman has said that the current approach to making transcriptions available to victims must ‘urgently change’ (1), technology can unlock this problem, re-engineering legacy transcription processes, lowering costs and improving victims’ access to justice. Allowing transcribers to review and finalise automated transcription drafts rather than listen to lengthy courtroom audio in full must be a better use of scarce resources. The opportunity to revisit the processes for scheduling court hearings to improve utilisation of the court estate, and time and costs for citizens and the judiciary should be seriously considered. Automated scheduling solutions deployed in complex use cases with enterprise clients are highly relevant. Coupled with modern notification platforms, judicial productivity and the user experience could be transformed. 

All AI solutions must deliver transparency in decision making, display and address bias in algorithms and maintain privacy of sensitive data and nowhere is this more vital than in matters of law, human oversight of AI in the judicial system is critical to avoid delegation of legal responsibility. For these reasons, administrative solutions and conversational chat bots that help users access information will likely be most readily deployed in this sector. Whilst GenAI could support the judiciary with evidence summarisation and other efficiencies, authorities will want to take time to evaluate the risks and impact of doing so.  

Overall it’s important to acknowledge the impact that automation and GenAI can have on access to justice. The costs of taking or defending legal action, for the state and the individual can be prohibitive and act as a barrier to justice. Cognitive computing solutions, which lower the human effort involved in preparing, arguing and judging legal actions can be a powerful tool in improving access to justice and swift resolution for all of us. The legal sector is notoriously risk and change averse, but these emerging technologies offer potential solutions to thorny issues of productivity in the system that cannot be ignored. 

Related topics


Bryn Coles

Bryn Coles

Development Director, Central Government, Capita

John Cheal

John Cheal

Solutions & Propositions Director, Justice & Policing, Capita

John is a digital and innovation lead at Capita for the Justice and Policing sector. In this role he researches and develops new service and solution propositions to solve sector challenges, improve citizen experience across public services and enable the digital justice agenda. John’s background is in the design and delivery of technology enabled solutions and services for public and private sector enterprise clients. He has been a champion of workflow automation and technology driven customer experience for more than a decade. More recently John has become a member of Tech UK’s Justice and Emergency Services Management Committee.