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Online court 2018: A play

Online court 2018: A play


Kerry Underwood envisions the future of McKenzie friends and online trials for civil disputes

RK: I’m Reggie. I appear on behalf of the claimant.

RK: I’m Ronnie. I appear on behalf of the defendant.

JUDGE: I am the judge.

RK & RK (in unison): We know. You’re the bastard that sent us down.

JUDGE: Are you McKenzie friends?

RK (1): You’re having a laugh. You sent us down for murdering him at the Blind Beggar and Jack ‘The Hat’ McKenzie ain’t no friend of ours.

RK (2): McVitie, Reggie, it was Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie, not McKenzie

.JUDGE: You seem to know each other. Isn’t that a conflict of interest?

RK & RK: Conflict of interest? That was us and the Richardson gang. That was a conflict! Not appearing in the online court.

JUDGE: Are prisoners allowed to represent people?

RK & RK: It was that or sewing mail bags. What with email and online courts there aren’t many mail bags to sew now, so the governor assigned us to small claims court work, what with our experience in court and all that.

JUDGE: I see.

RK & RK: That's more than the Blind Beggar did, or Jack 'The Hat' McKenzie does now. [Laughter]

VLADIMIR: Just want you to know I am here.

JUDGE: Who are you?

VLADIMIR: Just a hacker who has access to everything every litigant in your court does, says, or thinks.

JUDGE: Am I going to hear from the witnesses?

RK & RK: Not unless you dig up the M4 motorway [Laughter].

JUDGE: No laughing in court!

RK & RK: We’re not in court, we’re in Dartmoor, and what are you going to do about it – commit us to prison for contempt of court? [More laughter]

JUDGE: I’ve had enough!

RK & RK: We’ll tell you what enough is. Agreed damages at £10,000 – 100 per cent contingency fee – cheque made payable to the Kray Twins, Dartmoor Branch.

JUDGE: That doesn’t seem right. 

RK & RK: Tell the parties to apply for a Murderers Act detailed assessment.

[Dartmoor erupts in laughter]


1. Her Majesty’s government and some of Her Majesty’s judges think that online trials are a suitable way of dealing with civil disputes.

2. Anyone, including prisoners, fraudsters, and perjurers, can appear as advocates in the small claims court for a fee. Generally prisons have not let their prisoners out for such work but with online courts it will no longer be necessary.

3. Next year virtually any claim under £10,000 will be a small claim.

Kerry Underwood is senior partner at Underwoods Solicitors