3rd Circuit Court Launches Small Claims Online Dispute Resolution Pilot
People on the Big Island filing certain small claims cases will soon have the convenience of doing so online.
The state Judiciary announced Tuesday, Aug. 30, that the 3rd Circuit Court on Hawai‘i Island will launch an online dispute resolution pilot project on Thursday, Sept. 1. Parties to certain small claims cases will be required to use TurboCourt online to file, negotiate and attempt to resolve their small claims cases before court-ordered mediation.
Parties who do not have the technological resources to participate online must request an exemption from a judge.
“We have found that (self-represented litigants) like the convenience of filing online, with 56% doing so during non-business hours, on weekends and even holidays,” Angela Min, Judiciary chief innovations officer, said in a press release.
More information about the online dispute resolution program can be found on the Judiciary website under the Self-Help tab – Small Claims or by calling the 3rd Circuit District Court in Hilo at 808-961-7515, South Kohala at 808-443-2030 or Kona at 808-322-8703.
Last year, the 1st Circuit Court on O‘ahu was the first to launch the pilot program, followed by the 2nd Circuit in Maui County. As a result, 645 individuals were able to electronically file their small claim cases, with many using the free online negotiation and mediation tools to dispute their small claims cases instead of immediately heading to court. The 5th Circuit on Kaua‘i is slated to launch the pilot program in January 2023.
In its first year, the program was open exclusively to one self-represented litigant involved in a dispute with one other self-represented litigant. Parties were able to and continue to use the pilot program to complete and file their small claims court forms online. This allows parties to file their cases at their convenience.
The Judiciary also announced Tuesday several enhancements to the online resolution pilot program, including:
- Being available to more than one party disputing one other party (except those represented by an attorney who remain ineligible for this pilot).
- An extended negotiation period between parties to seven days.
- A return to traditional mediation services through each circuit’s local mediation center (in-person or virtual based on the preference of the court, center or parties).
- Additional guided interviews for court forms and resources online.
“As we enter the second year, we have examined our early data and seen what has been utilized the most efficiently and effectively, and responded to improve the user experience,” Min said in the press release.