Booroloola in the Northern Territory has a population of 870 and lies about 50 Km south of the Gulf of Carpentaria. It is also one of the 30-odd locations on the Northern Territory’s Local Court circuit.
This is remote country with limited infrastructure, roads and facilities – but local people and businesses still need access to justice.
Working with specialist legal technology company, Immediation, the Local Court has piloted a cloud-based platform that allows remote or vulnerable witnesses to participate in court proceedings without having to be physically present. Instead, they can use the secure platform to connect using video from wherever they have access to the internet.
Wrangling any legal dispute is hard work – but by stripping out friction, and using modern technology to streamline the process, Immediation is striving to expedite access to justice regardless of location.
Immediation is a specialist platform built to support legal practices, hearings and dispute resolution, featuring integrated video conferencing to allow participants to connect securely from wherever they are located. It can be used as a standalone application to facilitate communications, or with mediators, arbitrators and legally trained clerks to help matters run smoothly.
Hosted on Microsoft Azure, and with plans to shortly release an integration to Microsoft Teams to further simplify the process, Immediation has re-imagined legal proceedings for the NT Local Court circuit.
According to Immediation founder and managing director Laura Keily; “We started out thinking it would just be for vulnerable witnesses who by and large are female witnesses in domestic violence matters.” However the need for remote access was much broader; in the NT, often by the time the Local Court arrived, the witnesses were no longer living locally. “To get witnesses to a circuit court to give evidence thousands of dollars are spent. Government services spend hours in logistics arranging charter flights or buses.”
Immediation was able to demonstrate how its technology could be used to connect to anyone with an internet connection, regardless of where they were located. In the trial Keily says; “There were eight hearings, 39 witnesses across the hearings. Of the 39, upwards of 70 per cent no longer lived in the community.” In particular the Police witnesses who had moved on or were on leave were benefited by the option to appear remotely without having to wait at court all day or attend a formal audio-visual link (AVL).
Being able to connect to the court using videoconferencing reduced costs, overcame delays and streamlined the entire process.
Immediation is a relatively new business, but is experiencing phenomenal growth – spurred by the need to find a way around pandemic-related restrictions which can impede people’s ability to physically get to Court or meet with lawyers.
The business was founded in 2017 by Keily – a barrister and arbitrator – who had recognised that just as technology was transforming every other sector, it could transform dispute resolution as well. The platform was launched in 2019 – originally focussed on supporting one-off consumer mediations by allowing parties to connect online.
When COVID struck, the demand for a technology-powered platform to support all manner of dispute resolution and court processes took off like a rocket driving a ten-fold increase in revenues between 2019 and 2020.
Demand has taken off rapidly in Australia and also New Zealand following the acquisition of a business that was led by former NZ Solicitor General Michael Heron, who has now become Immediation NZ’s chairman.
To cater to rising demand, Immediation selected Azure as the digital platform for the solution. Immediation is progressing integration with other case management systems, using Azure as a solid foundation.
“We are now using our channel partnership with Microsoft, using the capability of the Azure platform to really scale out the service offering to our key three markets, of courts, tribunals, law firms and broader dispute resolution systems,” says Keily. Immediation is also securing business from organisations such as Sport New Zealand and the Domain Name Commissioner which are eager to reduce friction in dispute negotiations.
Leveraging Microsoft Azure ensures that Immediation is assured of scale, security and performance – while data sovereignty is addressed thanks to Azure’s unparalleled geographic reach. Immediation can also exploit the array of Azure services to accelerate innovation and is poised to launch in the US, again leveraging Azure’s reach.
It’s currently putting the finished touches to a Teams app that will allow users to click on the Immediation app in Teams and immediately access the Immediation platform to run a dispute or a legal matter.” That seamless experience of doing what they’re doing in their day-to-day life, and then surfacing Immediation to run a dispute, run a matter, and you don’t lose that connectivity of experience,” is what excites Keily.
She adds that there are many jurisdictions all around the world that would benefit from streamlined and secure access to remote justice. Because Immediation has been built using Azure there is no complex proprietary technology that needs to be installed by users – all they need is access to the internet and a mobile phone.
Azure also provides Immediation with the opportunity to innovate rapidly using advanced technologies such as cognitive services, translation, transcription, and live streaming, while establishing the trust that is essential to encourage lawyers, Courts and mediators to embrace a new approach.