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Accepted Paper:

The single justice procedure, online pleas & automatic online conviction - how courts in England & Wales are dehumanising the court process  
Penelope Gibbs (Transform Justice)

Paper short abstract:

Most criminal defendants in England and Wales don't meet anyone concerned with their case, in person or virtually. The single justice procedure processes "low level" offences online/on paper. Online pleas & convictions will soon follow. Are these fair & do they facilitate effective participation?

Paper long abstract:

Prosecuting people outside the court is cheap but not so cheerful. Most criminal defendants in England and Wales are sent their criminal charge in the post and expected to respond via an online or paper form. Most of those accused don't respond to the charge, and no plea of guilty or not guilty is entered. Any defendant who hasn't responded is convicted in their absence and fined. No one knows why so few defendants engage with this process but no-one also knows whether defendants actually receive the postal charge. The single justice service (as it's known) excludes a crucial participant - the accused person. The government knows the service has flaws but is desperate to save more money on courts. So in the Judicial Review and Courts Bill they are proposing that all defendants should be encouraged to plead guilty or not guilty online, and that low level offences should be dealt with via an end-to-end online court. This online court will treat all defendants the same, as if all have the same means and vulnerabilities. To what extent is online justice an inevitable development of austerity and managerialism? Can we make it sensitive to the reality of defendants' lives?

Panel P50a
Is that AI judging us? Is that OK? A multi-disciplinary panel unpicks the future impact of AI on law and human justice.
  Session 1 Monday 6 June, 2022, -