Legal Access Challenge narrows field to eight innovative schemes

updated on 01 October 2019

Online legal tools for women to protect themselves from domestic abuse and a chatbot designed to help people with special educational needs access legal advice are among the eight Legal Access Challenge finalists.

As Legal Futures reports, the finalists will now spend the next six months developing and implementing their ideas with funding of £50,000 each, with the two winners set to receive a further £50,000 in March 2020.

City firm Hogan Lovells will also provide pro bono legal advice to each finalist, as well as guidance on data protection and privacy issues from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The finalists are:

  • Formily – a tool to simplify the process of financial disclosure during divorce proceedings;
  • Glow – a platform to enable individuals and small businesses to more easily come together for group litigation orders;
  • Litigation Friend – a tool enabling small businesses involved in Employment Tribunal Proceedings to make evidence-based decisions;
  • Mencap – the charity has developed a chat tool to provide early legal assistance and advice on community care and welfare payments for people with special educational needs;
  • MyDigitalRights – a service aimed at helping people to understand their rights online and seek redress when their rights have been violated;
  • RCJ Advice – the courts service run by Citizens Advice has developed a number of tools to make victims of domestic abuse safer, such as an online application tool for a non-molestation order and access to a legal aid solicitor;
  • Resolve Disputes Online – a provider of online dispute resolution tools for businesses and individuals; and
  • TakeNote – an app for recording incidents of harassment, discrimination and bullying in the workplace and putting together a case file that can be used lawyers, trade unions or HR departments.

Anna Bradley, chair of the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the challenge’s judging panel, said: “We have a great mix of winners, using tech in different ways, and offering solutions that will benefit people in very different situations: people in their personal and working lives, some of the most vulnerable – victims of domestic violence and those with learning difficulties – as well as small business.

“Legal services should be for everyone, not just the minority who currently use them. Technology could be a real game changer. We will be working closely with all the winners to support their work, and make sure our regulatory approach is up to the new questions technology will pose.”