11 May 2017

Legal tech start up gets funding to provide access to justice for vulnerable

A legal tech start-up has won funding from the UK's leading social tech funder to develop its speech-to-text tool.


Legal tech start-up Just: Transcription has won funding from the UK's leading social tech funder Nominet Trust to develop its speech-to-text tool, which also uses IBM's Watson artificial intelligence (AI) system, so that it can be used in courts. Just: Transcription, a not-for-profit social enterprise, is a digital service that aims to improve access to justice though making transcriptions free or cheap and quick to access. It will be free to the likes of people who are exempt from court fees and eligible for legal aid. It said the new funding would all ow it to launch its product to’ the vulnerable litigants, advisers and lawyers who need it’.

Gathers and analyses data

By the time of its full launch, the system will have read every single piece of legislation, case law and available transcript, and allows it to learn the law as it is made. However, in addition to producing transcriptions, the system also gathers and analyses data from each trial in order to it offer new insight into what is happening in the courts, to aid transparency and identify opportunities for improvement and innovation for courts, advice centres and legal services.

Financial backing

Nominet Trust has put up £25,000 in backing over the next year and the plan is to bid for a contract to provide court transcription services the next time the Ministry of Justice put them out to tender.

Drivers of technology

The impetus behind the creation of the service has grown out of problems experienced by the Centre for Criminal Appeals,which works on miscarriages of justice and has identified that access to recordings of court proceedings and transcripts as one of the pillars of its Open Justice charter  which aims to increase accountability by opening up access to information.