The manner in which the courts in the North of Ireland with children and family disputes could be radically transformed under the new proposals, published on Tuesday.
New courts, with an emphasis on the social reintegration of offenders, can also be put in place for some cases related to drugs, alcohol and domestic violence.
The mediation and online dispute resolution service are proposed as alternatives to court hearings.
There is also a lot more of the use of technology.
The objective is to move to the dematerialization of the courts.
The recommended changes are the culmination of two years of family and civil justice systems.404 recommendations
The reform plan was presented by Mr Justice Gillen, in a speech on the occasion of the opening of the new judicial year at the Royal courts of Justice, Belfast.
“We can’t stay chained to the present time,” he said to an audience that included judges, barristers, solicitors and the others within the criminal justice system.
“The case of the reform is both compelling and urgent, and we must recognize and apply the fresh thinking that has emerged elsewhere out of fear of being left behind.”
He added: “Just because a group of people in the past to define the framework does not mean that others in the future may not break the mold.”
Two reports released Tuesday contain 404 recommendations for change.
The objectives are to improve access to justice, achieve better outcomes for court users, in particular for children and young people, and to create a more responsive and proportionate system that allows you to optimize the use of available resources, including new technologies.
In the sphere of family life, the approaches may include counselling, therapy and parenting programmes in order to make the procedure much less adversarial.
However, the pace of change is intended to reflect the centuries-old adage “the wheels of justice turn slowly”.
While stressing the need for the judicial system to embrace change, Mr Justice Gillen pointed out that this would be done incrementally.’Extremely fine’
The policy and finance will dictate the pace of most of the changes, while some changes require ministerial approval.
At this stage, it is not clear if this will be the downfall for the local elected members of the assembly, or direct rule ministers.
Many changes will require a financial investment, and financing offers have not yet been made.
Welcoming the publication of the reports, the Lord Chief justice Sir Declan Morgan has announced the creation of a Family Council for the judiciary and Civil Justice Council to oversee the proposed changes.
Mr Justice Gillen hopes that the centuries old proverb is realized: “The wheels of justice turn slowly, but exceedingly fine.”