At last the profession (and the MoJ) has woken up to the fact that to conduct criminal litigation effectively and efficiently in a modern cash-strapped world, it needs to be put 'Full Square' into the digital environment. Progressive firms such as ourselves have for the last ten years been banging the drum – the benefits are clear:
- Evidence presented over video links
- Lawyers handing court papers up to the trial electronically
- Click and share allowing documents to be shared between parties in the trial process
- Evidence served on the parties electronically.
- The use of CJSM secure email to allow the parties to engage with the court and the Judge to avoid unnecessary hearings
We have been at the forefront of this and for some years have been a “go-to” firm whenever the CJS Efficiency Programme – a government body charged with driving this forward needs guidance and feedback.
We were the firm asked to consult on the new digital court at Birmingham when the initiative began to take shape and you can see the interview on the above video.
What we now need is robust wi-fi at all courts allowing all court users to engage. Whilst the MoJ has started a programme of installing wi-fi into its court it’s just not happening quickly enough. The danger is that the initiatives being rolled out by the CPS, LAA and HMCTS – evidence being served digitally and the increasing use by the LAA of eForms, increased use of secure CJSM mail will lose credibility – especially in the eyes of the luddites amongst our profession who will seek to use this as an excuse not to engage.
Come on Lord Chancellor, this is an opportunity for you to produce something positive at last for the beleaguered defence!
Written by Steve Gelsthorpe