The Jersey Court Service has selected CaseLines (now owned by Thomson Reuters) as its cloud-based court exhibit and evidence sharing platform, underpinning what is described as a complete digital overhaul of its Courts. Following a successful proof of concept in 2020, Jersey is now rolling out the system across all courts and tribunals on a phased basis, beginning later in March.
Caselines, which is hosted in Azure and underpins the British criminal justice system, enables users to prepare, share and present evidence in court. Electronic bundles created using the platform will often be referred to at an in-person hearing, but during the pandemic have also facilitated entirely remote hearings. This is the case in Jersey, where the CaseLines platform was introduced and used in several civil and criminal hearings during the proof of concept, which ran for three months last year. Judges, jurats and advocates tested the use of CaseLines on a range of devices in a variety of different court locations.
One of the firms involved in the proof of concept was Baker and Partners. Speaking to Legal IT Insider, William Redgrave, a partner at Baker and Partners said he welcomes the roll out of Caselines. He said: “We used Caselines for a trial and I was a fan, as was the judge and lawyers on the other side. It was neater and quicker, and a good idea for using less paper.” While there were teething problems that mostly revolved around the Court’s internet, Redgrave told us that the parties found Caselines easy to use, commenting: “It seemed a very simple, user-friendly system.”
Given that all of Jersey’s seven Courts are rolling out Caselines without exception, one might wonder if this will present an issue for law firms with clients that are still adamant they do not want their data stored in the cloud, albeit data will be in UK-based Tier 4 data centres. According to Redgrave, this has not been raised as an issue and he pointed out that only evidence that could be referred to openly in court and become public will be stored in Caselines.
Given the recent nation state cyber-attacks against Microsoft Azure there is more focus than ever before on the need for law firms to vet their supply chain. Speaking to Legal IT Insider, Andrea Kilby, business development director for CaseLines said that security is a paramount concern, commenting: “Because of that we have a number of accreditations and maintain the ISO27001, SOC2 and now CJIS in the United States. Those accreditations are well-established in the industry and we’re able to give the assurance that all of the processes and procedures are in place.”
She added: “From our perspective we give the customer assurance that those accreditations are robustly enforced on daily basis.”
Caselines has expanded the functionality of its platform to include multi-media video and audio and new features include dual panes, where you can compare documents side by side. It has features that are able to ensure that everyone is looking at the same paginated document – which as any litigator will know, can be extremely time consuming in court.
Kilby said: “The proof of concept was really important to be able to test whether the product met the Jersey Courts’ requirements and in making sure they have the right infrastructure.”
She added: “Sometimes people think they are too small for Caselines, but this demonstrates that the system is flexible enough to be used across all case type and is scalable.”
In a statement today (24 March) Timothy Le Cocq, Bailiff of Jersey, said: “We are embarking on a modernisation programme that will help make justice more accessible and efficient. The use of CaseLines in recent hearings has allowed all parties to participate by accessing material online rather than on paper. In one case, the length of the hearing was significantly reduced, finishing half a day earlier than scheduled. The introduction of this software is a major step forward for Jersey’s courts and tribunals.”
A case management system, integrated with CaseLines for use across Jersey’s courts, is expected to be selected later this year.