By Abe Chauhan
This essay was awarded third place in UCL CAJ SPBC writing competition to answer the question: “Technology is a useful tool for furthering access to justice”.
Many are heralding a new era of ‘posthuman governance’ in which complex social issues are ‘deconstructed into neatly defined, structured and well-scoped problems that can be solved algorithmically’. However, new technologies are not neutral and egalitarian tools but human creations and their effects on access to justice depend on the way in which they are designed, deployed and operated by public authorities. Promises of a digital technocracy disguise ruthless cost-cutting measures which will likely perpetuate structural injustice and worsen access to justice. In particular, the digitisation of courts and tribunals could introduce access barriers and offend principles of natural justice (Part II) and automated decision-making (“ADM”) systems look set to outpace the development of traditional judicial review doctrines with the result that claimants’ rights may become materially unenforceable before the courts (Part III). As long as technological solutions are developed to prioritise efficiency in monetary terms, access to justice will continue to be under threat.