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From bricks and mortar to binary code

View profile for Casian Sala

bricks and mortar to binary code


In a triumph of corporate pseudo-speak over Plain English, HM Courts and Tribunals Service From has announced that it is planning to invest in further moves away from the ‘physical paradigm’. Reporting on the announcement, the Gazette quotes Natalie Ceeney – once of HSBC, now of HMCTS – as saying that the entire courts system needs to be ‘digital in design’.

What is meant by ‘physical paradigm’ is, of course, ‘bricks and mortar’ – and the ink, paper and indeed staff that goes with it. Court buildings are to be sold off, with the proceeds ploughed into schemes to boost moves towards a court system with a strong focus on digital tech – bricks and mortar transformed into binary code.

Even the most ardent technophile might baulk at the stripping away of the nation’s courts – all that bricks and mortar might be a bit of a white elephant, but over the centuries have been welcome symbols of justice in the community.

The statistics, however, speak for themselves: it’s been estimated that over a third of court buildings stand empty for at least 50% of the time. By contrast – as Ceeney pointed out – Britain as a nation is extremely keen on the virtual world, with the vast majority of Britons getting online on a regular basis, and a quarter of all non-food shopping undertaken online.

Convenience and cost-cutting is, as ever, a key driver. Ceeney said, “We need to enable a police officer to give evidence by video, taking 10 minutes of time off their working day, rather than the current half day. We need to stop running prison vans to transport prisoners to and from prisons for a 10-minute plea hearing which can be done online.”

By Christmas, it’s hoped that all magistrates’ courts will be properly equipped with digital technology, and HMTCS is in the process of putting forward a business case for a further £375 million investment in digital infrastructures for the court system. The ongoing round of court closures – the reduction, if not the end, of the ‘physical paradigm’ – will all help fund this move to a bright new digital world.

At Legastat, we have always embraced the potentialities of legal tech, and worked closely alongside our clients for years to ensure their practice meets the needs of the twenty-first century marketplace. If you are keeping an eye on HMCTS as it moves into the modern age, and are keen to ensure you keep pace, our litigation support professionals are ready to take your call.