Access to Justice by Direct Enquiries System
IT Department of Turkish Justice Ministry

The Problem

Before the launch of the Access to Justice by Direct Enquiries System (or the “Call Center Project”), judicial personnel spent considerable amount of time for providing answers to oral enquiries of lawyers and citizens, which hampered focusing on their main duties. Courthouses often lacked a tranquil working environment on the other hand, citizens and lawyers spent lots of time and effort in order to get information about the files which concerned them or which they represented. Furthermore, they had spend money on transportation and accommodation for this purpose. Such obstacles reduced effective access to justice and weakened public confidence in the judiciary.
In 2011, a working group comprising judges, engineers and employees of Call Center Services was set up with a view to putting an end continuous complaints from citizens and abuses leading to such complaints. The working group agreed in principle on devising a solution which could be commonly and easily used without requiring additional investments or manpower. After examining various options, it was decided to add a new property to UYAP IT System in order to allow citizens to enquire about the cases or files they are a party to through Call Centers using land or mobile phones.
With the Access to Justice by Direct Enquiries System in place, lawyers and citizens do not need to spend time and effort for seeking information about the cases which concern them. Parties can access to information about judicial proceedings rapidly without the restrictions of time and space. It is possible to get instant information about the proceedings conducted in the course of a case. The fact that the system is widely used relieves courthouses of the burden of providing information and speeds up all actions and proceedings. Moreover, judicial proceedings become more transparent.
The number of calls placed to the call centers and the number of enquiries are constantly monitored in order to measure the impact and benefits of the system. On average, nearly 2500 people use the call centers for this purpose. In addition, users can communicate their opinions and recommendations on the system via a module integrated into UYAP Helpdesk or a dedicated email address ( The data from the statistics screens and user recommendations are taken into account for continuous system improvement.
This legal protection covers the files concerning both citizens and lawyers. Thus, natural persons and lawyers which may become a party to judicial proceedings at any time can use this service.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
Turkey has the largest population in its region and thus is a highly litigious country. This intensive workload sometimes constitutes a barrier for the judiciary to checking certain proceedings in detail. Nearly 1 million citizens go to courthouses for information purposes every day. For example, an 2007 study conducted by Ankara Chief Public Prosecution Office suggests that 60.000 people visit the central courthouse of Ankara every day. Moreover, serious grievances occur since not every citizens is familiar with the law or because of simple procedural errors or ill-intentioned people who exploit legal gaps. For instance, a notice served to a wrong address may result in a lost case and the aggrieved party is notified after everything is over. The new system enables citizens to be informed immediately on the judicial proceedings which concern them and they can take necessary legal measures.
The Access to Justice by Direct Enquiries System refers to a call center mechanism which offers information to parties or lawyers regarding the cases they are involved in or they represent. This service which is provided in the context of dematerializing judicial services aims to maximize the functioning capabilities, reliability and accuracy of the judiciary and to improve the speed, effectiveness of transparency of judicial activities.
As mentioned earlier, citizens and lawyers who use the Access to Justice by Direct Enquiries System save precious time and effort previously wasted for seeking information about their cases and files. Now, there is no need to visit or wait at the courthouses or spend money on transportation for that purpose. Likewise, judicial personnel focus better on their core tasks as judicial information is accessible to people anytime and anywhere using land or mobile phones.
The system has improved the legal security of citizens and transparency as the call centers operation 7/24 and provide information on judicial proceedings instantly without the need for waiting for notices.
Judges, prosecutors and other judicial personnel do not have to spend time to satisfy inquiries for information and documents and they can focus better on their core judicial tasks. This reduces the number of visitors and thus contributes to enhancing the speed and effectiveness of the judiciary.
In total, 629.367 calls were received between 13.02.2012 when the system became operational and 31.10.2012, corresponding to 2.245.747 minutes used for providing information judicial proceedings to the parties. The figures suggest that the system is increasingly used effectively, having saved at least the same number of minutes so far.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The idea of a call center project originated from the quest for resolving the complaints of misuse and abuse from citizens and demands for enhancing the transparency of the judiciary. The IT Department of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) set up a commission comprising judges, managers of call center services, representatives of GSM operators and engineers to devise a solution. The commission agreed on creating the Access to Justice by Direct Enquiries System (or the “Call Center Project”).
One deputy head of department, a coordinating judge, two engineers and three other staff members in the MoJ IT Department worked for 12 months to develop the system. First, the team identified the content and judicial phases to be included in the scope of the call center services in consultation with practicing judges and users. Then, the relevant engineers developed the web service software for all necessary processes. Finally, the protocols on the Access to Justice by Direct Enquiries System were signed and the system was launched on 13 February 2012. Necessary integrations were completed with companies authorized to provide call center services in Turkey (118 80 BN Telekom Communications & Trade Inc.; 118 18 Assistt Directory and Customer Services Inc.; 118 99 Pluss Telekom Communications & Trade Ltd. and 118 24 Infoline Directory and Call Centers Inc.) for offering the system content to users. Necessary software programs for integration were developed concurrently by the respective companies.
This service which is provided under UYAP IT System was developed by the staff members of MoJ IT Department using Web Service technologies running on Java 1.6 and IBM WebSphere application servers.
Citizens need to be authenticated to access the system and get information on their case files or enforcement proceedings Therefore, the system has a high level of security. The system involves interaction among the Ministry of Justice (UYAP IT System), Ministry of Internal Affairs (MERNİS IT System) and 118 call centers.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The purpose of the Access to Justice by Direct Enquiries System is to prevent improprieties and automatically inform parties of all judicial proceedings. The main strategy identified to this end was to create an accessible platform. A web-based option was ruled out during the initial assessment now that it always requires internet access and because people would have to check back regularly for developments. Given that almost all citizens have access to land or mobile phones or both, the option of voice service delivery via call centers was considered the most viable and cost-effective option for access to information regarding judicial and enforcement proceedings anytime and anywhere.
The main objectives of the system are to:
• improve the speed, effectiveness and transparency of the judiciary,
• ensure and maintain high quality in service delivery,
• offer parties a convenient means for accessing relevant judicial data (e.g. information on decisions, hearings, on-site inspections, expert witness reports etc.) through land or mobile voice calls and for conducting necessary judicial transactions anytime and anywhere data,
• relieve citizens and lawyers of the need to visit judicial units. This helps the parties and lawyers save time, effort and money and reduces the workload of courthouses.
The overall objective is to deliver public services. The service framework was designed in cooperation between the Ministry of Justice and call centers.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The Ministry of Justice uses latest technologies to dematerialize all judicial proceedings. In respect of the Access to Justice by Direct Enquiries System, the Ministry assigned a judge who was tasked with coordination of activities with the representatives of call centers, relevant MoJ units and representatives of the Information and Communication Technologies Authority which is in charge of telecommunications and IT infrastructure in Turkey. The aim was to design a transparent, effective, reliable and accountable service, opening the judicial process up to the parties and citizens. Various preparatory meetings were held gathering the abovementioned participants as well as representatives of authorized call centers. Discussions continued throughout for nearly one year 2011. Once the legal infrastructure was in place, the technical staff of the companies and Ministry engineers worked on the technical infrastructure.
Upon completing the legal requirements and technical infrastructure, service delivery protocols were signed with 118 80 BN Telekom Communications & Trade Inc. December 2011 and with 118 18 Assistt Directory and Customer Services Inc. in January 2012. This was followed by a successful live testing phase. In the meantime, the contracted companies finalized their advertising preparations and the ads for the Access to Justice by Direct Enquiries System began to be circulated on TVs, radios and newspapers on 13.02.2012.
The ads were interesting and the advertised service was appealing now that people would have easy access to crucial judicial information which may concern them. Therefore, citizens started using the service immediately and extensively. As a consequence, the Ministry needed to enhance the service capacity and signed a new protocol with two other companies, 118 99 Pluss Telekom Communications & Trade Ltd. (March 2012) and 118 99 Pluss Telekom Communications & Trade Ltd. in order to expand call center services further.
The judicial information offered by UYAP and the Access to Justice by Direct Enquiries System is available to only authenticated individuals who are parties to judicial or enforcement proceedings. People who are not parties or authenticated cannot access information. The details of judicial proceedings provided by these systems is for information purposes only and they do not serve as notices. Voice calls are recorded for the sake of service quality and security.
For authentication the caller has to provide the 11-digit TR ID number, the serial and line numbers of his/her ID card and certain letters of mother’s maiden name. Once the user is authenticated, the operator verbally communicates related judicial information stored in UYAP IT System. An operator can use the enquiry tools only during the call. The system is closed to the operator when the call ends.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The Access to Justice by Direct Enquiries System was launched on 13.02.2012 under UYAP IT System. The main challenge prior to the implementation was the reluctance of call center companies due to revenue concerns because the service had not been tried before. Therefore, the companies were not sure about possible revenues and concerned. To overcome this challenge, a clause was added in the protocol which grants half of the service charge for each call (after taxes and other official duties) to the company. This provision eliminated the said concerns and provided the companies with necessary sources of income and resources for investments and additional staff members for effective service delivery.
Another challenge was that call center operators lacked adequate knowledge of the law and legal terms. To overcome this challenge, the operators of the call centers to be assigned to the Access to Justice by Direct Enquiries System were trained in legal terms and concepts by MoJ experts either in the premises of the Ministry or the call center companies.
Moreover, the Ministry developed sample guidance texts for use during calls and communicated the materials to the call center companies.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
All the codes pertaining to project implementation were developed by the engineers of MoJ IT Department no external software was procured. The service which runs under UYAP IT System is provided by using Web Service technologies running on Java 1.6 and IBM WebSphere application servers.

One deputy head of department (project manager), a judge (assistant project manager) and three domain experts and testing personnel were involved in the development phase. This team also took active role in content determination. Two engineers worked for four months on technical analysis and finalization of the design and software development. Java programming language was used for developing the project. This platform ensures independent operation. In addition, one IBM Intel Server and four wide area networks are actively in place for smooth functioning of the system. The system generates positive outcomes for lawyers, citizens and judicial personnel and revenues for call center companies.
An important advantage is that the system can be revised based on needs and expanded to other call center companies easily as it was designed, developed, and implemented using own institutional resources.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The roll-out and improvement of the Access to Justice by Direct Enquiries System (or the “Call Center Project”) is quite practical as it was developed in-house using Java. As mentioned earlier, protocols were signed with two companies in February 2012 when the project was launched. However, the number of service providers was later increased to four. It was possible to integrate the latter companies into the system merely after a few days’ work at the Ministry.
According to the initial protocols, the service consisted of 6-7 categories of information to be offered by the call center companies. The content was later expanded to 34 categories based on requests by users. The process is managed in such a manner that no additional effort is required from the side of the call center companies to use additional content.
Two simple steps need to be completed to disseminate the system anywhere:: 1) the series of transactions needed to offer information to users should be determined, and 2) integration with a minimum of one call center company to provide judicial information to people via voice calls.
The system is environment friendly in that people do not need to go courthouses merely to get information and this reduces human and vehicular traffic. Moreover, the use of IT improves the speed and quality of access to information. People are immediately informed about judicial processes, which is very positive for transparency and public confidence in the judiciary. The system promotes access to justice as it can be used with equal ease by disabled, elderly or ill people who find it difficult to visit judicial units to get judicial information as well other citizens who have geographical or financial difficulties in accessing courthouses. The system provides rapid and secure access to judiciary. In view of all these points, the system is most certainly sustainable from administrative, social, environmental and financial angles

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The Access to Justice by Direct Enquiries System was very well received by citizens and is used intensively and extensively. People who cannot or do not wish to go courthouse for any reason use this service to get information to see whether there are any judicial or enforcement proceedings which may concern them. Over half a million calls have been received and nearly 630.000 conversations have taken place since the system was introduced. This corresponds to almost 2.300.000 minutes of voice calls.
A most important impact of the system is that lawyers and citizens alike become the supervisors of their files in a manner of speaking in that they have instant access to relevant judicial information and follow up the judicial process anytime and anywhere. This has resulted in a remarkable increase in the confidence in and satisfaction with judicial services.
The system promotes transparency in the judiciary and raises awareness of accountability among judicial personnel. It also encourages judicial personnel to be more attentive and careful in their work in order to avoid misuse or abuse of the power of public office.
The system clearly indicates that judicial services can be provided to the parties directly by transforming the judiciary and using innovative methods and tools. The system prevents unnecessary bureaucracy in the courthouses facilitates direct access of citizens to their case files without having to present to judicial personnel.
As the system requires only a land or mobile phone to obtain judicial information, it is very useful and practical for people who do not use computers or the internet or who have difficulties in accessing to courthouses.
The system also promotes partnerships between the public, private and civil society sectors in the design and implementation of public services.
The interest and satisfaction of users with the Access to Justice by Direct Enquiries System clearly indicates that IT should continue to be an active and inseparable part of public services in this age.
From the perspective of the Ministry of Health, the major lesson to learn is that huge problems do not always necessitate huge investments. Simple and inexpensive solutions may well bring about huge success.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   IT Department of Turkish Justice Ministry
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Yavuz Güllü
Title:   Project Manager  
Telephone/ Fax:   00903122932004
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   Adalet Bakanlığı, Bilgi İşlem Dairesi Başkanlığı, Ergazi Mahallesi Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bulvarı No:448/B
Postal Code:   06370
City:   ANKARA
State/Province:   ANKARA
Country:   Turkey

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