The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal is now handling evidence digitally in the majority of cases, the tribunal has revealed as it gears up for a surge in the number and complexity of cases. As part of a move to 'paper-light' working it has replaced paper bundles with a digital evidence management and presentation platform that is also used in Crown courts.
The system, from specialist UK company CaseLines, automatically creates digital bundles that are consistent in look, feel and pagination with paper bundles. During a case, all information can be viewed securely by authorised users from any device with an internet connection.
Daveena Ogene, head of case management, said the system will help the SDT cut the costs per hearing over the long term: 'We expect to reduce paper, printing, copying, courier and administrative costs for users, and to reduce the time and effort involved by all parties in uploading, collating, reviewing and annotating evidence, making the process so much easier for everyone involved.'
The SDT's workload is expected to increase following the move to a civil standard of proof and a backlog of cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct.
Lay tribunal member Robert Slack said: 'This new digital way of working means I can access the case notes at any time, giving me a lot more flexibility than the previous paper-based bundles. Being able to type in a page number and be taken directly to the right page is an enormous help. Before, I had to navigate papers across perhaps four or five A4 ring binders while sitting for the tribunal. Now the legal representatives, or other participants, simply indicate a page number and I can go straight there.'
The CaseLines system is installed at Crown courts across England and Wales but ironically not in the Business and Property Court, where the much-vaunted e-filing system requires evidence to be submitted as pdf files. The Bar Standards Board is also implementing the Caselines platform. Other users include the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts in the UAE.