New online service for money claims
Small claims cases can now be lodged and settled at the click of a button.
Claimants seeking money from individuals or companies will be able to resolve disputes out of court and access mediation using a new online system.
The facility launched by HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) can be used to start a claim against anyone in England and Wales.
It provides a quicker, more user-friendly way to start an action in the County Court for amounts up to £10,000, officials say.
Until now claimants and respondents have had to fill in and post paper forms or use an outdated online system from 2002.
Cases that could be dealt with using the platform include claims relating to services such as building work, goods such as televisions or washing machines, or disputes between landlords and tenants.
Launching the new service, justice minister Lucy Frazer said: "We know that using the civil courts has been a daunting prospect for some.
"This innovative, quick and easy online system will enable people and small businesses to get back the money that is rightly owed to them.
"This is an excellent example of the work we are doing under our £1 billion plan to transform the courts system, allowing people to access justice online and around their busy lives."
More than 1,400 people have used an earlier pilot of the system launched in August.
The Ministry of Justice said more than four in five of those users found the service "very good and easy to use".
Mr Justice Birss, who chairs the sub-committee of the Civil Procedure Rule Committee dealing with the civil money claims pilot scheme, said: "This is an important step in the modernisation of our courts and tribunals system.
"For too long the perceived delays and complexity of the system have put off too many people from using the civil courts to make a small claim.
"When it is complete, this new online route will give members of the public and small businesses a more user-friendly way to access justice. The system now being made available to the public is the first stage in that new route."
Technology is playing an increasingly prominent role in the courts and legal system.
Other examples include online services for tax appeals, divorce applications and fare evasion cases.