The world has undergone immense technological change in the last decade. It is easy to appreciate the significance of Information Technology to the Legal world of lawyers. As the way people work, live, and play changes this no doubt affects the administration of justice, as it is part of this changing world. Legal technology is rapidly transforming the practice of law. Legal research has now moved from hard copy to digital systems such as Westlaw, LexisNexis, and cloud-based systems such as Google Scholar and Wikipedia. More statutes are now available online. There are many changes in disclosure of documents and filing documents in Court. Keeping pace with the changing world, Courts in Western countries have adopted modern technology. The most important development that took place in England over the last decade was modernization of the Judiciary.
During 2000 a number of pilot projects were started in the civil courts. Today the English Courts are using an electronic diary system, which has proved very useful. For example, when a five-day case settles unexpectedly a week before the hearing date, the electronic diary is then used to interrogate the system to see if there are any over-bookings at that court or at other courts to fill the judge’s list. The court diary arrangements are updated to show the new listing arrangements. The main function of the judiciary is to hear and determine cases in a fair and timely manner at reasonable cost. When investigated it emerged that Courts’ and judge’s time was being wasted in sorting out muddled court files, or waiting for the information or completing tasks that could have been done more efficiently with technology. The other big development was Electronic filing of documents and Electronic (paperless) trials and hearings.
Internet based Electronic Filing of court documents has developed in courts in several countries like the U.S, Australia and Singapore. This has a number of benefits for the courts, and for the parties to legal proceedings who use them. Some of these benefits include:
Managing documents in an electronic format that is cheaper, quicker and more efficient.
The use of hypertext links in legal submissions and witness statements to link electronically to the underlying documents or legal authorities being referred to. This allows the reader to access the relevant material very easily and efficiently without the need to carry around bundles of files and papers. Very large volumes of material can be stored digitally and carried easily on a USB stick. Through ‘cloud technology’, documents can now be accessed over the internet without having to carry anything at all.
Author : Pavani Reddy
Managing Partner of Zaiwalla & Co LLP