Courtroom technology is wonderful when it works. Both sides in the Hewlett Packard v Lynch epic hearing in the Rolls Building have been treated to virtually real-time transcription, along with documents displayed on screens for every member of their extensive legal teams.
Yet some are more cautious about tech than others – and the generation gap occasionally shows.
Taking Mr Justice Hildyard through the whizzier features of his side’s 2,500-page closing submission on the 92nd day of the hearing, Richard Hill QC waxed lyrical about the soft copy’s Word and PDF versions: ‘It is both hyperlinked and has a side navigation bar, which, if you haven’t used it, perhaps your judicial assistant could help you with?’
The judge, who had relied on a lever-arch file during earlier submissions, nodded agreeably. ‘It sounds terrific,’ he said, ‘but I haven’t used it, no.’
Undaunted, Hill enthused: ‘You can click to them, blow them up and scroll down them so you can navigate our document very easily on the left-hand side, click through into the body of the document, and then the document itself is also hyperlinked…’
Hildyard J, who was called to the bar in 1977, quipped: ‘You’re quite right, I shall need my judicial assistant to do this!’ Most of the courtroom laughed, though Obiter noticed that the judicial assistant himself did not join in. Perhaps he was trying to remember if tech support was in the job description.