Laura Kistemaker, Kaspar Scheltema, Michiel Scheltema
End of March 2017 the Dutch Legal Aid Board, HiiL and Modria announced that the online conflict resolution platform Rechtwijzer would be discontinued. Subsequently, Justice42 was set up as a spin-out of HiiL with the aim to find a way to continue the innovative concept of Rechtwijzer.
During the years that Rechtwijzer was up and running, clients consistently showed their appreciation of this new divorce procedure. Many lessons were learned about what elements of the process clients liked and what they missed, and about what is needed to back up the platform with a viable business model. To us, as the team behind Justice42, it seemed too big of a loss not to take these insights and turn them into a restart of the platform. People going through a separation, one of the most difficult periods in their live, deserve all the support they can get.
We have been invited to share with you an update on where we stand.
New partnership and activities
Like Rechtwijzer, the new online platform offers parties a structured and supported procedure leading to a finalised divorce plan. It’s aim is to contribute to access to good and affordable online justice by stimulating self-reliance of divorcing couples. In the Netherlands, it will be marketed under the brand name and url uitelkaar.nl. The Dutch Legal Aid Board has developed a set of quality standards, which Justice42 was able to meet. As a result, uitelkaar.nl will continue to be presented on the Dutch Legal Aid Board’s website Rechtwijzer uit elkaar. Also, people eligible for legal aid will be offered lower prices for the services on uitelkaar.nl. We have opted for a clear focus for the coming years on the topic of divorce and with a focus on the Netherlands.Together with HiiL, Justice42 is defining a roadmap for expansion to other jurisdictions and topics for the coming years.
In the past months, an agreement has been reached with two social impact investors: SI2 Fund and Jaap van der Zwan. This partnership has enabled the building of a new IT infrastructure and the setting up of the company’s operations. Jointly, we have embarked on defining the impact measurement framework through which the ‘social return on investment’ (SROI) of the new platform for its stakeholders will be systematically assessed. We will finalise the initial study of such an SROI-analysis by the beginning of 2018.
Status of platform development and implementation
After 6 months of building and testing the new platform, it went live on 8 September. For a large part, the new platform follows the flow and procedure of Rechtwijzer. In addition, we were able to implement a number of new features that build on experiences and points of feedback, which were gathered with Rechtwijzer. These adjustments include: a better case overview and notification centre, the introduction of additional services on the platform and a filtering system for assessing what cases are suitable to follow this procedure.
At the time of writing – mid-November 2017 – we already have reached the mark of 100 cases, of which 4 are finalised (meaning that the divorce plan of the spouses have been reviewed and sent to court). 1 couple even has received the official notification that the marriage has been dissolved. More importantly users rate uitelkaar.nl an 8 out of 10 in the customer satisfaction surveys. The platform is continuously being improved both in collaboration with our IT-partner and through adjustments we are is able to implement ourselves.
The user tests and the first user feedback,have strengthened our belief that uitelkaar.nl will proof to be a qualitative, empowering and de-escalating alternative to other ways of organising a divorce in the Netherlands. The network of lawyers that guide users in the final stages of their efforts to reach agreements on uitelkaar.nl as well as the other stakeholders, including the Dutch Legal Aid Board, continue to show their dedication to support this innovation. We are very keen to follow our first users the coming weeks to see how they experience uitelkaar.nl!