Use: completing a divorce petition.
CourtNav was developed by the Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau along with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP [The Law Society, 2017. p65]. It is an online tool which helps users fill in an online divorce petition, it will ‘ask you a series of questions and your answers complete the relevant court forms’ [CourtNav, 2020]. The questions asked are yes/no or multiple-choice answers where possible, the tool then places the users answers into the relevant parts of the court forms [The Law Society, 2017. p65]. The court forms will be checked for errors and then the client can print court ready forms for their divorce application [Electric Putty, 2020]. The tool also has autosave, timeline and case summary features for ease of use [The Law Society, 2019. p.22].
The internet was already saturated with online tools dealing with divorce forms, but they did not offer legal feedback. This meant many applicants cases were thrown out due to errors and divorcees would have to reapply to the court and pay the court fee again [Electric Putty, 2020]. CourtNav has proved that feedback element is a great success. Online divorce applications such as this have contributed to reducing application rejection rates in the Family Courts due to errors in paper applications from 40% to 0.4% with an average time to complete an application being reduced by 35 minutes (Post-Implementation Review of Part 1 of LASPO 2019, p.155).
The staff involved in giving feedback to the users have found that checking the court forms can take minutes compared to a much longer time if meeting clients face to face [Yates, 2016. pp.257-258]. The project has helped the solicitors involved at the RCJ to focus more on complex needs of clients where before their time was often taken up helping people to complete court forms [Electric Putty, 2020].
One of the interesting aspects of this tool is its hybrid nature, it utilises human support through a lawyer who is on hand throughout the process if the help text on each page is not enough [CourtNav, 2020]. The user can also access as much help as necessary once they have completed as much as they can [CourtNav, 2020].
CourtNav also has 5 series of ‘Going to Court’ guides covering what is involved in the process, considering alternatives to going to court, templates and guidance on the documents needed to start the claim and explanations of hearings, the trail and appeals [CourtNav, Going to Court, 2020].
1. CourtNav, ‘Going to Court’ (2020) https://courtnav.org.uk/going-to-court.php (Date Accessed: 01/06/2020)
2. CourtNav, ‘Welcome to CourtNav’ (2020) https://courtnav.org.uk/ (Date Accessed: 01/06/2020)
3. Electric Putty, ‘RCJ Advice Bureau – CourtNav Application’ (2020) https://www.electricputty.co.uk/work/rcj-advice-bureau-courtnav-application-design (Date Accessed: 01/06/20)
4. The Law Society of England and Wales, Capturing Technological Innovation in Legal Services (2017)
5. The Law Society of England and Wales, Technology, Access to Justice and the Rule of Law (2019)
6. The Ministry of Justice, Post-Implementation Review of Part 1 of LASPO (2019) online https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/post-implementation-review-of-part-1-of-laspo (date accessed: 02/07/2020)
7. Yates, Paul, ‘CourtNav and Pro Bono in an Age of Austerity’ in Access to Justice: Beyond the Policies and Politics of Austerity. Ed. Ellie Palmer, Tom Cornford, Audrey Guinchard and Yseult Marique (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2016)