The Rolls Building, which houses the Chancery Court, Admiralty and Commercial Court and Technology and Construction Court, is to receive a new IT system in late 2015, which will include a move to paperless filing of claims.
A renewal of the IT system was originally planned for 2012, but did not go ahead.
The planned upgrade follows Lord Justice Briggs’ final report, “Chancery Modernisation Review” which was published in December 2013. The report amongst other things, highlighted the inefficient IT system which serves the Chancery Division, with Briggs LJ stating:
“An unfortunate feature of the Chancery Division, particularly in London, is that it is the most poorly served of any court or tribunal in the United Kingdom by IT.”
The Jackson Final Report “Review of Civil Litigation Costs,” published in December 2009 had emphasised the advantages of an up to date and effective IT system in the disposal of civil proceedings, with Jackson LJ commenting:
“An effective ‘Information Technology’ system in the Courts is essential to proper case management. The courts need up to date IT in order (a) to process cases and (b) to communicate effectively with the outside world.. The courts still do not have an IT system which is adequate for the delivery of civil justice at proportionate cost. Instead we have a patchwork quilt of different IT systems which have evolved without proper co-ordination”.
Noting the findings of Jackson LJ, Briggs LJ at paragraph 1.62 of his report states:
“The Jackson final report was published in December 2009. Four years have elapsed since then, and no progress at all has been achieved in relation to the provision of effective IT for the Chancery Division, at least in London. Meanwhile overseas courts with similar caseloads to that of the Chancery Division are gaining a competitive advantage from their development of IT”.
The Chairman of the Bar Council Michael Todd QC has supported the court’s increased use of technology, stating in 2011:
“The idea is to have an almost paperless court. As lawyers, we are so accustomed to thumbing through bundles of paper. It should be possible to work with less paperwork.”
For lawyers who undertook their training in the pre-computer era, the thought of a “almost paperless” hearing might be something of an alien concept. Whilst the idea is surely still some way off, there can be no doubt that a court system that is more conversant with modern technology can only be a good thing.