Leveson: ‘History is littered with examples of failed IT projects’

Abstract Multicolor Network BackgroundTechnology offers once in a generation opportunity to improve our justice system, said Sir Brian Leveson last week. Lawyers needed to take advantage of modern technology to improve the justice system, according to the President of the Queens Bench Division speaking at the Modernising Justice Through Technology conference.

Leveson lamented the now ‘unmanageable levels’ of paper, and stated that although it might be the preference of many judges, ‘we simply cannot go on with this outmoded way of working’. He described the laborious paper-based processes as ‘inefficient’ and ‘costly’.

The catalyst for change was an investment package worth over £700 million announced in March last year. Online case management is key to the reforms which will seek to eradicate duplication and enhance security. Leveson explained his early experiences of online management, and although he cited ‘serious teething problems’, his overall impression was positive. Very little will change procedurally, he said,  litigation will follow the same process albeit digitally. ‘No more couriers. No more lost pieces of paper,’ he promised. ‘No more delays because there is no one to print, photocopy or deliver, or because the ageing equipment is on the blink yet again’. The rollout in the courts is due to be finished by October.

The judiciary will change to an updated system called eJudiciary, which can withstand the increased reliance on technology.  Leveson emphasised the urgency of helping judges adjust, and warned that ‘history is littered with examples of failed IT projects’. Wifi is to be installed everywhere, and although jury trials will not become ‘virtual reality’, preliminary work will assume this nature. The fear is that we will ‘lose some indefinably important human element’ of the justice system, he said. Litigants in person with poor English could not be forgotten either, he said; adding that the court service would have to ensure their front of house service was  aware of their needs. ‘Justice will soon look and feel very different and it is vital that it does,’ Leveson said.

 

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