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The dangers of poor tech

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The dangers of poor tech: videoed witness statements lost to ‘poor technology’

 

Disappointing news for those of us keen to embrace legal tech as a means to build a legal industry that’s thriving in the twenty-first century: it would seem that a reliance on poor quality tech has been having a detrimental effect on vulnerable witnesses.

Speaking at the London Law Expo 2015 conference at a panel discussion entitled ‘Preparing for the Reality of Virtual Courts’, barrister Annabel Timan offered a cautionary note. A willingness to adapt to the needs of vulnerable witnesses by offering alternatives to appearing in court can, it appears, go awry.

Referring to a recent case at Kingston Crown Court, where they have been piloting a Section 28 scheme, she described a case involved a child who had given their statement on video several months before the case reached the courts. By the time the trial commenced, the tape had deteriorated to such an extent that it was no use to anyone. Had the child not then agreed to give evidence in person, a crucial testimony would have been lost. And the effect, of course, was that the child was put in the difficult position of having to give their evidence twice.

Timan also cited incidents when witnesses had been interviewed via Skype – all very well, of course, until the Wi-Fi connection fails. She said, “There are many benefits to having witnesses who are out of the jurisdiction in court via video link but it only works if there is proper investment in technology.”

And it’s not just about whether or not the tech actually works: the better the tech, the more useful the information. With video statements which are of a high quality, the experience grows more lifelike, even down to reading facial expressions. As Timan said, “The better technology gets, the more you are able to see someone’s demeanour.”

At Legastat, we understand that it is not enough simply to be enthusiastic about building a contemporary practice that engages with legal tech: the tech itself must be suited to the task at hand, and of the highest standards. If you are looking to ensure that you provide the best possible service to your clients, contact our litigation support professionals now.

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