Master of the Rolls clarifies comments appearing to suggest small claimants don’t need justice

Authorized Twitter takes intention at Sir Geoffrey Vos

The Master of the Rolls has sparked controversy by appearing to suggest that individuals making small courtroom claims don’t actually care whether or not they get justice as long as the choice is fast and low cost.

In a speech delivered final week, Sir Geoffrey Vos mentioned that “for small claims, the parties often want a swift cost-free resolution, without much caring whether the outcome is robust and dependable”.

Vos later clarified that he was speaking about disputes over “micro transactions” on eBay, moderately than County Court docket small claims which could be for up to £10,000.

However the speech as revealed very a lot didn’t make that clear, prompting authorized Twitter to lambast England’s prime civil decide as “out of touch” for his “very worrying” assertion.

Talking to the Society for Computer systems and Legislation on 17 March, Vos canvassed tech tendencies akin to blockchain, sensible contracts and the “meteoric rise in quantum computing that I have seen described as being likely to ‘upend’ every industry”. The speech went on to predict what dispute decision would possibly appear like in the courageous new world of 2040.

It included this controversial passage:

“Every justice system has to cater for the types of people and entity who are entitled to access it. It is important to understand that justice is no longer a binary process. This important principle underpinned Woolf’s reforms last century and it remains true. For small claims, the parties often want a swift cost-free resolution, without much caring whether the outcome is robust and dependable. In large disputes and some other types of claim, the parameters will be different, and the parties may be prepared to invest time and money in achieving a more just and perhaps objectively correct solution.”

That went down like a cup of chilly sick on authorized Twitter when the transcript emerged.

It seems different panellists had related reactions on the evening. Former Court docket of Enchantment decide Elizabeth Gloster took Vos up on his “fast food approach”, saying “I don’t know where you grew up in the County Court, but it wasn’t in the sort of small claims case that I was doing, where the smaller the case, the more the parties care desperately not about getting an answer, but getting what they think is the right answer”.

That prompted Vos to row again all the means to the boathouse.

“The claims that I’ve been talking about… are on eBay… they’re for very small sums of money generally and people genuinely don’t care because they don’t want to spend any money”, he mentioned

Vos added: “I’m not talking about those that think they need to take their small claim to the County Court”.

Elsewhere in the speech, Vos had referred to “the 60 million small claims brought every year on eBay… I would expect that most such disputes will be resolved very quickly indeed by AI driven portals that provide a rough and ready resolution”. However this was a number of paragraphs after the reference to small claimants not caring about the final result of their instances, so it’s not like the extract was taken out of context — solely the unpublished Q&A clears up the misunderstanding.

Vos, 66, has made lawtech his specialist topic, talking frequently about the paper-free, crypto-heavy regulation of the not-too-distant future. Most such speeches cross with out incident.

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