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Court email service planned

Court email service planned

A new secure email system for sending papers between lawyers' offices and courtrooms will speed up the time cases are dealt with, according to the Government.

Justice minister Nick Herbert told MPs that by April, the system will be in place in order to tackle the problem of missing paper files, which can delay proceedings and even lead to defendants being bailed, legal aid bills increasing and witnesses inconvenienced by spending hours waiting for hearings to begin.

Ministers said the email service should be established within the next 10 months.

Conservative Elizabeth Truss (South West Norfolk) asked MPs at Justice Questions in the Commons: "Given the cost of delay when court papers do not turn up on time, what is the Government doing to expand the use of email in delivering court judgments and court papers?"

Mr Herbert replied: "We think it is time the criminal justice system caught up with the rest of the world.

"We plan that information documents will be sent between all the agencies in the criminal justice system by secure email by April next year.

"We will eliminate this wasteful paperwork and drive efficiency in the system."

Sarah Jackson, Senior Solicitor in IBB's Commercial Dispute Resolution team, comments: "E-Filing has been used in some of the civil courts for some time now. Generally, providing the document that is being filed is under 25 pages, it is a reliable method of lodging documents with the Court.

"However, as with any system, documents still continue to get lost. Last week, I appeared at a hearing where both Claimant and Defendant had filed Case Summaries and Draft Orders by email, which the Judge had not managed to locate. Whilst this did not delay the hearing, which continued without the papers, the Judge did not have the benefit of the advance information he would have had if the emails had been located.

"The system does need to be improved and certainly in the lower Courts, the Court staff perhaps need further guidance and training on how to deal with documents by email."

We have one of the leading teams of criminal specialists in West London and the South East. If you are facing a serious criminal charge, you can contact a member of the IBB's Criminal Defence team, call us on 08456 381 381 or email enquiries@ibblaw.co.uk.