Council lawyers shortlisted for award for paperless courtrooms

The South London Legal Partnership (SLLP) has been shortlisted in the Going Paperless Project of the Year category of the Public Sector Paperless Awards 2017, hosted by Gov News Direct.

The SLLP, made up of Merton, Sutton, Kingston, Richmond and Wandsworth councils, is pioneering Digital Courtrooms. Council lawyers set up a pilot project with two companies – Zylpha, which specialises in creating electronic bundles, and Project Fusion, who developed their online data room platform to transfer information securely.

This makes it easier than ever before to create electronic court bundles that are automatically indexed and paginated, reducing the margin for error. Once the bundle is ready it is sent securely and digitally to the court prior to the hearing. This gives everyone the chance to read the evidence in advance, which means more cases start on time.

So far, 1,069 cases have been handled by Digital Courtrooms which are now running in three of London’s family courts and the South London Legal Partnership estimates that Digital Courtrooms has saved more than £800,000 since it began in March 2016.

Merton Council’s Chief Executive, Ged Curran, said: “We are delighted to be shortlisted for this award as going paperless has transformed the way family court cases are administered. Large bundles of paper in lever arch files which were previously couriered to the court by the local authority have been replaced with digital documents which can easily be updated and accessed throughout the case.”

The Chief Executive of Sutton Council, Niall Bolger, said: “The South London Legal Partnership has delivered a real positive change in the way we deliver legal services. An innovative approach to using technology means we are able to create digital court bundles, properly indexed and paginated ready for hearings, instead of having to rely on unwieldy bundles of paper. This frees up valuable court time and means that cases can be dealt with swiftly and efficiently. I’d like to congratulate everyone involved in the South London Legal Partnership for their efforts, and am proud to see recognition of this hard work from the Public Sector Paperless Awards.”

Kingston Council’s Chief Executive, Charlie Adan, said: “Congratulations to The South London Legal Partnership for being shortlisted for this award. The SLLP has provided an innovative solution to help improve efficiency. Digital courtrooms have transformed the way family court cases are run, saving time and money whilst reducing the margin for error. The continuing success of the partnership has proven that working with our neighbouring boroughs can help us deliver top quality services to benefit residents.”

Paul Martin, Chief Executive of Richmond and Wandsworth councils, said: “The success of the South London Legal Partnership has already proved that joining forces with other boroughs can make a positive difference in providing a quality in-house legal service while making significant financial savings. Bringing together the legal expertise of the boroughs legal teams has meant we can provide an even better and cost efficient service. This award nomination just highlights some of the innovative work they are now able to deliver.”

The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony on 6 July.