Task Force on Justice Innovating Working Group Report

By: HiiL Innovating Justice, Taskforce on Justice

This is the report of the Innovation Working Group of the Task Force on Justice.  The Innovation Working Group was asked to review the evidence of unmet justice needs, explore the potential for innovation, explore the investment possibilities for promising innovation areas, provide parameters for enhancing innovation for SDG16.3, and to make recommendations on these matters to the Task Force on Justice.

The access to justice gap in the world is huge. Justice systems are not meeting the needs of people in a serious way. And what they do provide within the capacity they have is not good enough. In fact, the situation is much more urgent. Not only is there a serious problem now, but the world is changing fast, in many ways. Many uncertainties and transitions ahead of us make it more important than ever that we have good infrastructure in place to prevent and resolve justice problems.

We will need innovation to deal with this problem. We must challenge some of our basic assumptions about what justice systems must do and how they do that. Doing justice is currently perceived and organized as applying norms to people’s behavior. It should be re-framed in terms of the justice needs of people and the fairness of their relationships. We need a focus on outcomes. Did an aggrieved
person get a solution? Was community harmony restored? Is further harm prevented? But also: is the number of people that believe the justice system is not open to them decreasing? Justice systems must also open-up and let others in besides lawyers. We must also start seeing costs differently: justice systems don’t only cost money; they also provide ‘revenue’ and benefits in the social and economic sense.

We have seen the emergence of new technologies and services, both very new technological advances and 21st-century upgrades of ancient traditions, that are available to close the justice gap. They all focus on people’s justice needs, and the outcomes they need, in an open, interdisciplinary way. Rather than being restrained by old models of delivering justice, they are able to systematically add more value to economies and to manage conflict in an inclusive way that increases social cohesion. This is a bottom-up movement. It is a response to the fact that the lawyers and courts are not always delivering what is
needed. We share some examples of what we see.

It is also necessary to open up when it comes to financing justice innovation. It does not seem likely that the justice gap will be closed with public, government funding alone. That would also not be wise, given the general argument for opening-up the legal sector we have made in this report. We can learn from
other sectors like health and education to develop financing models that can support the justice innovation that is needed.

We end with some suggestions about what is needed from whom to make this change happen.

It is our hope that our work is a useful contribution to the incredibly important work of the Task Force on Justice.