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Online courts during the Covid-19 pandemic in the Netherlands: Conference presentation

On 17-18 February 2021, the Bar Ilan University Faculty of Law organised the conference Digital Governance in the Times of Covid-19. The Conference focused on changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and how many aspects of our (legal) life turned from analogue to digital. During the second day, Erlis Themeli presented in the Online Courts During Covid-19 and Beyond panel, together with Professor Schmitz (University of Missouri School of Law) and Adv. Naqui (PEW Charitable Trusts). Erlis spoke on how in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic Dutch courts went digital. He considered this event both a cure and a disease. A disease because it threatened the right to access to justice for many; but also a cure, because it showed that courts can be dynamic and use technology to improve access to justice for many. Two other panels in the conference focused on Algorithmic Regulation and Digital Policy Tools During Covid-19 and Zoom Parliaments During Covid-19 respectively. Two keynote speeches from Prof. Frank Pasquale (Brooklyn Law School) and Prof. Richard Susskind (Oxford) provided a fertile ground for discussion and interesting ideas for further research.

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Published: April 8, 2020

Digital court room Rotterdam (rechtspraak.nl)

While our focus is on keeping ourselves and others healthy and safe and we share the great concerns and grief caused by the corona virus, our team tries to keep the spirit up and is working at a reduced pace from home. Our PhD researcher Georgia had to return earlier from her research stay in Singapore – but we are happy to have her back safe and sound – and many of our planned activities have been cancelled. Luckily, some meetings and events can still go through online and we hope that this virus that has been so devastating for many people can be controlled soon and we can begin to pick up our normal life routines and work activities in a world that has been shaken.

The disruption of society has naturally also affected our justice systems. In the Netherlands, the courts were closed on 17 March 2020, and only process designated urgent cases (including child protection cases, health and security related cases, insolvency cases, and certain criminal cases). A positive side effect is the rapid uptake of digitisation of justice. In the Netherlands, on 3 April 2020 a legislative proposal was put forward to enable more electronic communication and video calling to secure that the judiciary can keep functioning. We report more in detail on this in our blogpost on Conflictoflaws.net.

Stay safe and healthy!