Legal minds at LexisNexis South Africa, from left, Thobani Madonsela, Kavish Hanlall, Niall Graham, Ezra Pillay, Desigan Naidoo and Craig Wymer, discuss their latest award-winning project Kagiso, a system aimed at making the process of mediation and dispute resolution more accessible to South Africans. Picture: Bongani Mbatha African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - With the simple click of a few options online, residents from across the country can find a way to solve their problems - and alleviate lengthy court processes at the same time.

This is the award-winning idea behind Kagiso, which is a digital system designed by a Durban team of software developers from LexisNexis South Africa at the recent Global Legal Hackathon.

The team scooped first prize in the South African leg of the international competition, which is aimed at challenging the legal industry to create solutions using technology.

The team comprised compliance author for Lexis Assure Ezra Pillay, artificial intelligence team lead Craig Wymer, senior software engineers Thobani Madonsela and Desigan Naidoo, project leader for technical development Kavish Harilall, and data analyst Niall Graham.

The hackathon was hosted by law firm Baker McKenzie and The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law.

“The team conceptualised an online dispute resolution and mediation solution platform named Kagiso, which means peace in Setswana. We produced a business case supported by market research together with a simple, viable product,” said Pillay.

The product will provide a cost-effective alternative to expensive civil court actions, which currently are the cause of large backlogs in South African courts.

“It would typically be used by mediators, corporate clients and disputing parties. Kagiso matches a dispute to an appropriate mediator based on system ranking, demographic (language) specific needs and uses blockchain technology to provide encrypted and unforgeable documents.

"It works on any physical or digital platform, and also produces court-ready documents in the event of no settlement,” he said.

While the team did not make it into the next round, Pillay said the system would be feasible in a South African context, where long court rolls delay outcomes of legal issues.

“So many issues can be solved using mediation. We are making mediation more accessible to every resident who doesn’t necessarily need to use the court route to solve disputes, such as a neighbour’s wall that has fallen and damaged your property.

"The mediation system is a friendlier approach than court, and finds an outcome that is suitable to both parties.

"This is a route many people should consider. It’s an old method of alternative dispute resolution, but Kagiso makes this method more accessible to the public and this is why we are so proud of it,” he said.

For more information visit the “Kagiso - Dispute Resolution Platform” Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kagisodrp 

Independent On Saturday