E-justice (or e-judiciary) is seeing the modernisation of judicial systems across Europe through the use of technology. And because such progress and advances are significantly improving access to justice for all, it's no wonder why it's a welcome change to the once rigid and somewhat inefficient systems. But what's the impact of e-justice on law firms?
What is e-justice?
Put simply, e-justice refers to the use of technology to improve access to justice and effective judicial action including dispute settlement or criminal sanctions.
By using technology in the handling of various administrative procedures before, during and after the judicial proceedings, e-justice provides a plethora of possibilities throughout the legal process and is the way of the future in terms of streamlining and expediting justice.
Some of the possibilities brought about by e-justice include; processing of procedures, document filing, access to status of cases in progress, access to archives and registries, as well as teleconference in judicial proceedings, to name a few. There are fewer physical interactions that were once customary in the traditional judicial system, documents may be exchanged outside of business hours and courts can reduce their amount of administrative work.
Objectives of e-justice
Leveraging technology in the judicial system simplifies and accelerates the processing of cases; benefiting citizens, judges and law professionals alike. Citizens now have better access to information and speedier processes because courts can more thoroughly and efficiently handle their cases.
The following are just some key objectives of the e-justice portal in Europe:
1. Promoting national and European synergies through electronic procedures and exchange of information.
2. Access to justice in Europe for individuals and businesses, particularly with;
- Access to information such as rules in other Member States
- Finding the appropriate court, particularly in cross-border issues
- Recourse to court
- Harmonisation of family matters between EU countries
3. More effective judicial cooperation using electronic tools to accompany the implementation of the instruments for judicial cooperation within the EU
4. Quicker and cheaper mediation without confrontation between parties as was traditionally imposed
5. Use of video conferencing in hearings
6. Interconnection of criminal records to enhance transparency and legal certainty in all EU countries. These include business registers, land registers and insolvency records, which currently vary by country
7. Cross-border recognition and enforcement of court judgments
8. Automatic translation tools to allow rapid outline translations
Impact of e-Justice on law firms
A move that has been commended by the UN, e-justice provides significant financial and time savings, increasing the effectiveness of the proceedings and timely delivery of justice. Being able to monitor progress of proceedings and access legal databases and public versions of judgement also provides new opportunities and improves accountability of the judicial system, thereby shifting public expectations, particularly among young people.
E-Justice presents new opportunities for law firms as it opens up the borders to obtaining new clients and makes case management more efficient in general. On the flip side, it increases competition and forces law firms to have systems which integrate with local e-justice requirements, which can be overwhelming but necessary in order to keep up and thrive for years to come.
Legal tech for e-justice
To capitalise on all opportunities that come your way and remove any potential barriers, your practice management software must integrate with your local e-justice system. It should be easy for lawyers to submit information and documents to local e-justice portals, receive and store correspondence in case files, and stay on top of deadlines – all from one centralised cloud-based practice management solution. In some cases, having systems that integrate with the e-justice portal is not just preferable but a requirement, so make sure you're not left behind with obsolete systems and processes.
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