ejustice systems success

We’re often being asked the following question: on what depends the successful transformation from traditional paper-based court case management system to e-Justice? Is there a path that guarantees a positive digital justice impact? If so, what’s the path that leads to negative effect and therefore should be avoided? 

Before answering such a complex question, let’s have a look at the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals document. It defines the goals of the justice systems this way:

To promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

The UN: https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal16

The UN is paying special attention to electronic judicial case management systems as an innovative way to ensure these goals. So far this sounds great. But the UN’s member states are at a different stage of digital maturity. Therefore their capacity for achieving the 2030 goals is different. 

ejustice systems success

The 2030 SDG initiative was published first in 2018. Back then it was noted the current technologies in e-justice such as e-filling, court task management, court scheduling, virtual hearing tools, calendar management, e-court notifications, etc. had a constantly improving presentation and are expected to result in better and more organised electronic court case management systems.

Now, we’re 2021. We’re far from 2030 and we’re also relatively far from 2018. The e-Justice technologies keep getting improved presentations. Long story short – many countries are lagging in terms of digital maturity compared to others. But at the same time, the improvement of e-Justice technologies makes the perspective of digital transformation more realistic even with the significant lagging at hand. 

Leverage on technology

E-government projects such as e-Justice are coming to successful implementation in countries with strong institutions, stable political environment and control of corruption. When it comes to determining the factors that are challenging the success of e-Justice, answers become more complex. By looking at the successful e-Justice stories from countries within the EU, we can come up with an understandable conversation about which factors determine the success of e-Justice and which are the risk factors that create issues.

E-Justice in the European Judicial system

Let’s sum up the basic characteristics of the European judicial system:

  • Governance: in many European countries the governance of the justice system is centralised. In other words, it means that the Ministry of Justice is responsible for the functioning of all courts within its structure. If the country is about to embrace an e-Justice, then the Ministry of Justice is most likely the institution that develops and deploy this project. The same applies to other e-government projects as well. 
  • Administration of justice by several governing bodies: the presence of several public administrations in the justice system is a challenge for the deployment of any kind of e-Justice ICT project. The administering of essential judicial processes often may involve coordination between the Ministry of Justice and the Judicial Council and therefore we’ll be facing complex processes that can suffer from a conflict of power.
  • Independence of judges and prosecutors: judges and prosecutors are key actors in every justice system. Their independence is granted by Constitution and the digital transformation of the justice system should reflect it.

The lessons to learn

Together with the opportunities that are being created by the tech evolution in the justice sector, some challenges may risk the success of e-Justice, It’s hard to collect a complete list of e-Justice challenges, because they are different in each country. But it’s always a big plus to look at what problems others had and try to avoid them.

E-justice in Italy

CEPEJ studies show that the Italian judicial system is facing performance issues compared to other countries. The root of these issues is identified in the collaboration between judges, prosecutors and courts. The relationship between these actors is sometimes weakly linked. Combined with the heavy standardised bureaucratic work, the e-Ejustice model experiences negative effects. The conclusion from Italy’s e-Justice lesson is that digital justice’s success depends on how strong the institutions within the hosts country are.

E-justice in Spain

Spain has a diversified use of IT technologies in their justice system. From judicial case management to court document management systems, the new technologies are present there. However, reports show that the justice system has not changed much. The question here is what’s the point of deploying an e-Justice system when there are countries where the justice administration’s functioning didn’t change? 

The resistance to change is a challenge that every justice system is facing. In Spain this challenge hasn’t been overcome thus the lack of coordination between key justice actors had an overall negative effect on eJustice.

The risk factors

According to the specialised literature, the risk factors that may jeopardize the success of e-government project are mainly related to:

How do we employ the risk factors into strategy that will deliver a successful e-Justice transformation? Get to know from our next blog post dedicated on the success factors for e-Justice projects.

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