Electronic Court File - The Quiet Revolution

Transcript of video

[Musical introduction] [Montage of court and legal-related scenes followed by title words: Electronic Court File – The Quiet Revolution]

Introduction: Paralegal pushing trolley laden with legal files into a court building.]

In Australia the Federal Court is again pushing a revolutionary change to how it operates. The Court is transitioning from paper-based to digital court files.

[Court in operation. Crowded bar table strewn with files.]

An Electronic Court File will ultimately reduce the requirement for paper while providing the information needed in an easily accessible and searchable format.

[Computer screen showing the new system in use.]

This will mean savings in time while improving case management for litigants, practitioners and the Court.

The ECF project is another example of the Court employing technology for the benefit of the Court and its users.

[Subtitle words: "Beginning A Case". Image of paralegal filing documents at registry counter and staff receiving and stamping them.]

Traditionally, a matter begins in the Federal Court when documents are prepared and physically taken to the registry counter where they are processed by staff. This can be complicated and time-consuming, particularly when the Registry is not close by.

[Solicitor in law firm in front of computer screen lodging documents using ECF.]

With the ECF documents can be lodged at any time and - subject to compliance - the court will accept and acknowledge receipt promptly during the working day. The Federal Court was one of the first courts in Australia to introduce electronic lodgment of documents. The popularity of this initiative has meant that more and more are provided electronically. The Federal Court receives more than seventy thousand documents per year and more than fifty per cent of these are now lodged in this way.

[Subtitle words: "In The Court Room". Court scene contrasting barrister at bar table rostrum using paper file contrasted to one sitting using iPad.]

The ECF will also bring changes to the court room. Practitioners will gradually change from using paper files to electronic documents.

[Archival vision of crowded court room showing man pushing a large trolley while on mobile phone, women carrying boxes, two men manoeuvring trolley that collides with seats.]

It will be a far cry from the days when court rooms were cluttered with trolleys loaded with large files.

[Solicitor at table opening folder and shifting papers around.]

It will mean practitioners no longer having to thumb their way through large documents.

[Judge and Associate sitting in court with two screens in front of each of them.]

The judge and associate will use two screens: one showing the entire court file, the other specific documents selected from that file. References will be found instantly instead of working arduously through multiple paper files and folders.

[Subtitle words: "Judge’s Chambers". Archival vision of judge’s chambers with desk laden with paper. Judge interacting with associate. Judge holding document.]

Improvements will not only be evident in the court room but in the judge’s chambers where the important tasks of case management and judgment writing take place.

No longer will it be necessary to flick through the many and varied documents in binders or manila folders to find the important information required.

[Judge sitting at desk relatively clear of files and documents, with computer screen in background. Judge turns to screen when sound is heard alerting to arrival of mail.]

Judges, along with associates, executive assistants and other staff will receive material simultaneously achieving greater efficiency and security. Judges will have confidence in the completeness of the file.

[Judge typing notes on computer.]

They will also have the ability to create an electronic working file - their own version of the court documents where they can annotate or add comments.

[Judge’s Executive Assistant working at computer.]

Documents will not be held by just one person - reducing the risk of them being misplaced and vastly increasing the flow of information.

[Paralegal who entered building at start is now seen leaving. She is pushing trolley but this transforms into a laptop.]

The Electronic Court File project will streamline the way in which the court operates allowing all court users to focus on what matters most - resolving differences as quickly, inexpensively and efficiently as possible.

The Federal Court will be at the forefront of this change again, contributing to the social and economic well-being of all Australians.

[Final titles: "Produced by the Federal Court of Australia, Public Information Unit. www.fedcourt.gov.au"]