The Ministry of Justice will not complete a feasibility study of a computer system for the Rolls Building until the end of 2013, some 20 months after a £10m attempt to upgrade IT was cancelled, the Gazette can reveal. The slow progress of the project means that the ministry cannot set a target date for the badly needed computerisation.
The Gazette can also reveal that the Supreme Court’s troubled IT system will be replaced early next year to enable ‘improvements’.
The £300m Rolls Building was opened in 2011, with the aim of ensuring that London remains a world centre for commercial law. But a provisional report on chancery modernisation last month singled out London’s Chancery Division – based in the Rolls Building – as ‘the most poorly served of any court or tribunal in the United Kingdom by IT’.
‘Overseas courts with similar caseloads to that of the Chancery Division are gaining a competitive advantage from their development of IT,’ the report, by Lord Justice Briggs, said.
All filings are currently physical rather than electronic. ‘There are in London no individual judges’ diaries, still less software upon which they could be constructed,’ he said.
An MoJ spokesman said the new system might include online applications and payment.
Tony Guise, chair of the Commercial Litigation Association, said the implementation of a new IT system was imperative. ‘What needs to happen now is for the MoJ to allocate a live working product that is ready to go,’ he said. ‘The time to act is now, as litigants are pouring through the doors.’
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s troubled IT system will be replaced early next year, the court revealed this week.
A spokesman for the court said: ‘After four years’ experience, we have identified a number of improvements that could be made to the case management and wider IT systems originally implemented by the Ministry of Justice.’ A supplier has been chosen but a contract has not yet been signed, he said.