Towards a digital legal consciousness?


  • Naomi Creutzfeldt University of Westminster


The justice system is over-stretched and constantly expected to perform beyond its capacity. It is operating with delays, high costs, not providing access to justice for all and, as some argue, with outdated procedures. This reality has forced a shift from slow and tired paper-based, face-to-face procedures to a time, and cost-saving, digital turn. The digitalisation of justice has slowly evolved in different ways in justice systems around the world. This article discusses how this transition to digital justice affects (non) users’ perceptions of this system and what motivates their actions. I argue that users of the justice system need different sets of capabilities (legal and digital) to be able to navigate this new justice space. In turn, this highlights the divide between those who can, and those who cannot, access the digital justice system. I build on legal consciousness research, identifying its failure to disentangle conscience from capabilities and propose a framework through which users of a digital justice system can be better understood. I also argue that designers of such systems can use this framework to inform the creation of a better system of digital justice. Finally, I recommend this framework for empirical testing and refining.






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