Staatliche Plattform bietet Online-Scheidungen

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„Wegweiser zum Recht“ – so lautet die Übersetzung für den automatisierten Streitschlichtungsservice, den die Niederlande bereits im Jahr 2006 ins Leben gerufen haben. „Rechtwijzer“ soll Privatpersonen dabei helfen, ihre Konflikte außerhalb der Gerichte
untereinander zu lösen. In den Anfängen konzentrierte sich die Plattform auf Ehescheidungen. Sie wurde in den folgenden Jahren um weitere Module ergänzt: Beschwerden bei Online-Käufen, Schlichtung in Mietsachen oder Konflikten am Arbeitsplatz. Das Angebot einer
staatlichen Online-Streitschlichtung sollte zudem dazu dienen, Einsparungen, etwa bei der Prozesskostenhilfe oder den Gerichtskosten, zu erzielen. Diese Erwartungen haben sich jedoch nicht erfüllt, weshalb nur die Plattform für die Ehescheidungen fortgeführt wird. Auf dem Anwaltszukunftskongress wird Corry van Zeeland von der Universität Tilburg über die Erfahrungen mit der staatlichen Online-Rechtsberatung sprechen.

What was the idea of creating rechtwijzer?

Corry van Zeeland, Universität Tilburg

Corry van Zeeland: Inspired by the uptake of the internet and the availability of personal computers in Dutch households, the Legal Aid Board decided in 2006 to create a website empowering self-reliant citizens to solve their (legal) problems themselves and together. There was increasing knowledge about the types of legal problems people are struggling with, and also increasing evidence that people may need some help when facing problems, but also that they like to be ‘in control’ when solving these problems. That is when we came up with the idea of creating online ‘justice journeys’ for the most common legal problems. The main idea was ‘help people to help themselves, as early and amicably as possible’.

Who is involved in the development of the platform and who is financing it?

A team consisting of experts in the fields of access to justice, conflict resolution and dispute system design from Tilburg University was involved in the development of Rechtwijzer 0.0 and 1.0. Rechtwijzer 2.0, the ODR platform hosting online divorce was developed by a
team based at HiiL, the justice innovation institute in the Hague. Besides these core teams, Rechtwijzer has always involved other stakeholders in the design, such as judges, lawyers, mediators, paralegals, psychologists, social workers, plain language specialists and UX designers. Very important to the design is the participation of end-users in focus groups and user test as they are the people for whom Rechtwijzer is built!

Apart from divorce law – what sort of legal advice can users expect from rechtwijzer?

Rechtwijzer aims to provide information, advice, self-help tools and referral for the top 5 of the most frequent legal problems. We know from legal needs studies what the common legal problems of Dutch citizens are. Often, these problems involve long-term relationships. Besides divorce and family problems, people are dealing with labour issues (for instance dismissal), rent problems, conflicts with public authorities and consumer disputes.

Do they have to pay for the advice?

Rechtwijzer 0.0 and 1.0 were for free. Users had to pay for the divorce platform. Apart from the entry fee (€50 for using the platform), the separating couple had to pay for the (mandatory) review by a specialized family lawyer (a fixed fee of €420). Also voluntary services by a mediator and adjudicator were available against fixed fees. People eligible for public legal aid paid a reduced fee.

How does rechtwijzer help if no agreement can be reached between the parties to the dispute?

Parties agree upfront that they would call in the help of the (online) mediator or adjudicator on Rechtwijzer if they could not agree on one or more issues.

Have the costs for court and legal aid declined since the edition of rechtwijzer?

Unfortunately, Rechtwijzer 2.0 was terminated in March 2017. The number of cases were too small to see a decline in costs for courts and public legal aid. We do believe, however, that costs savings can be reached, and we are confident that the new divorce platform that will be launched in September 2017 will be able to help reach this goal.

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