Accessible legal services – The Hindu BusinessLine

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Online and third party funding are viable options

Online justice: Accessible and affordable | Photo Credit: Natali_Mis

India’s legal system is currently facing an unprecedented backlog of cases, with around 4.4 crore cases pending in 2022.

This backlog is compounded by various other problems, such as inadequate infrastructure, shortage of judges, and the norm of seeking adjournments, which culminate in a lack of access to justice for many individuals and businesses.

Adopting Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) and Third Party Funding (TPF) is a viable option to reduce this case backlog.

Online resolution

ODR is conducted electronically, usually via a web platform, and has the potential to improve efficiency and accessibility. ODR can significantly reduce the amount of time required to resolve disputes, as parties can conduct proceedings remotely and at their own convenience.

This not only saves time for the parties involved but also helps to reduce the burden on the already overburdened court system.

In addition, ODR can significantly reduce the costs associated with litigation, as parties do not need to pay for physical courtrooms or travel expenses. Finally, ODR provides greater accessibility and convenience to parties, as they do not need to be physically present for proceedings.

TPF involves the financing of litigation or arbitration by an external third party, such as a specialist company, in exchange for a percentage of the award or settlement.

TPF enables individuals and businesses with limited financial resources to access justice. TPF can also improve the quality of legal representation available to litigants, as they have more funds available to hire higher-quality attorneys.

In addition, TPF can provide increased liquidity to litigants and their attorneys, allowing them to pay for expenses involved in litigation or an arbitration.

By combining ODR with TPF, it is possible to address several challenges faced by India’s legal system.

For instance, disputes can be resolved more swiftly as parties have access to greater funds for legal representation and do not need to wait for physical courtroom proceedings. This can help to reduce the backlog of cases and improve the efficiency of the legal system.

In addition, the combination of ODR and TPF can provide greater access to justice for those who are otherwise unable to afford it. This can help to address the issue of inadequate legal representation for those with limited financial resources, ensuring a more fair and impartial resolution of disputes.

This can make legal services more affordable and accessible to individuals and businesses with limited financial resources.

Parliament’s role

Given the potential benefits of ODR and TPF for improving India’s legal system, Parliament must provide clarity on these issues and mandate their use as a primary option for dispute resolution.

Specifically, Parliament should consider enacting laws that provide clear guidelines for the use of TPF and establish ODR as a viable option for resolving disputes.

This could involve establishing regulatory frameworks for TPF providers and ODR platforms, as well as training and certification programmes for practitioners.

Furthermore, in order to ensure the successful implementation of ODR and TPF in India, it is also necessary to educate people about these concepts and their potential benefits for the legal system.

By implementing ODR and TPF and raising awareness of these tools, India’s legal system can be greatly improved and made more accessible to all.

Doing so, can certainly help to improve access to justice, reduce the backlog of cases, and make legal services more affordable and accessible to all.

Kapoor is Advocate, Part of Strategy & Policy Team at Presolv360; and Shreyashi is Advocate with Desai Law Offices, Hyderabad

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