Digital dreams

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The evolution of paperless courts offers benefits such as increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of searches and facilitating collaboration, writes Allison Stanfield

Today, a large proportion of evidence is created electronically and many documents are never printed. As lawyers in our fast-paced world, we rely on word processors and email exchanges with colleagues and clients, however, when it comes to transacting with the courts, we most often present documents in their physical form.

Allison Stanfield
Allison Stanfield

In 2010, Justice AP Shah, the chief justice of Delhi High Court at the time, inaugurated India’s first district “paperless e-court” in Delhi’s Karkardooma complex. Justice Shah stated that “five years down the line, almost all the courts of Delhi will be converted into e-courts”. The reality, however, has proved quite different. As Justice S Vimala of Madras High Court said in 2014: “India has emerged as an information technology powerhouse of the world, but not [the] Indian judiciary”. Her comment was made against the backdrop of poor computerization by the lower courts, where cases were routinely adjourned for years due to records not being available.

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Allison Stanfield is the director of new business at e.law International, a consulting services provider that specializes in electronic evidence.