19 Apr 2016

Technology, community and justice: CrowdJustice guest blog

By Guest

This is a guest blog from Julia Salasky, founder and CEO of CrowdJustice, the UK’s first crowdfunding platform for litigation. Julia will be joining us next Monday at the Tech for Good meetup, where we’ll be exploring how technology can help make the UK justice system more transparent and accessible to those who need it. In this blog Julia writes about the power of bringing together communities to fund and support cases around a shared sense of injustice.

A theory of justice

What is justice? One of the greatest political philosophers of the 21st century, John Rawls, suggested we enclose ourselves in a “veil of ignorance” when thinking about society and justice. It’s a sort of thought experiment in empathy – if you didn’t know if you would be born rich or poor, strong or vulnerable, how would you want the poor and the vulnerable to be treated?

We’ve been thinking about this a great deal in the context of CrowdJustice. We started up because on a macro, societal level, it is hard for a lot of people (and not just the poor and the vulnerable, though of course that demographic can be hit the hardest) to access the law and legal advice. This is for all sorts of reasons but lack of funding is primary among them.

What’s been really powerful to watch as communities come together to fund cases, too, is the injustice at the human, individual level, the cases when people feel wronged or that decisions are being made that will detrimentally affect their community.

Take for example Denise Brewster, a Northern Irish woman who’s going to the Supreme Court early next year, and who was denied her long-term partner’s occupational pension when he died suddenly, because she hadn’t filled out a form. What’s powerful about that case is that it’s not just Denise who has suffered (both at Lenny’s death, but also at the injustice of the system) but this issue will, as she so eloquently says, be something that will affect many others.

Or the group Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association (JENGbA), which powerfully argued that the doctrine of joint enterprise goes to the heart of the British justice system (see main image).

Or one local engineer who tried with his community to protect a Victorian heritage site (a locally adored spillway) from being paved over.

When communities help these passionate people take their cases forward it is an exceptionally powerful thing – a groundswell of support to rectify a sense of real injustice. Fail or succeed in court, these cases strengthen our sense at CrowdJustice that the law and the justice system works, and that is available to everyone, big and small, to use, to be able to fight their corner.

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This is an excerpt, head over to CrowdJustice to read Julia’s original blog in full. The image of JENGbA campaigners is taken from the CrowdJustice website.

Sign up here to join us at Monday’s Tech for Good meetup at Runway East and hear from Julia and our other tech for good speakers.