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Monday, 4 February, 2002, 11:31 GMT
Cyber-courts go online
Laywer entering court
The courts are going through process of modernisation
People seeking to recover debts will be able to take advantage of a new cyber-court service launched in the UK.

The Court Service website will allow claims under 100,000 to be processed online.

Previously, claimants would have had to post their claims to the court.

Over 1.6 million claims were made in 2000 for money owed by one person to another, including unpaid debts, rent arrears or unpaid hire purchase agreements.

Mixed success

The new service comes in response to the UK Government's ambitious target to get all services online by 2005.

It has had mixed success in the launch of online services so far.

While the Health Service portal has received much praise, an Inland Revenue online service for self-assessment tax returns received less than 1% of all returns via the web when it was launched last January.

The cyber-court for debt recovery is not replacing a visit to the court.

Less than 36,000 debt cases go to trial but if an online claim is disputed then the claimant will still have to go to a courtroom.

More efficient courts

Nevertheless, the government is pleased with the scheme.

"This is a significant step forward in our programme to modernise the courts, making them more accessible and providing a service that suits the needs of the people that use them, rather than the people that run them," said Michael Wills, minister for the courts at the Lord Chancellor's Department.

The government expects to have 25,000 claims made via the online service by the end of the year.

Users will need to log on to a secure website, create a user ID and password and give details of the claim.

The claim is then sent electronically to a central store.

Claimants will receive a reference number to allow them to check the progress of their case online.

See also:

24 Jan 02 | Scotland
Scots census goes online
07 Jan 02 | dot life
E-voting: A load of old ballots?
10 Dec 01 | Education
Digital plan for individual learning
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