Integrated Digital Court Infrastructure
THE CASE FOR DIGITISATION OF JUDICIAL SYSTEMS
Modernisation and automation of national judicial infrastructure can play a vital role in a country’s future economic development.
Technology has been adopted in courts of law around the world. Countries such as Australia, Korea, India, Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei have achieved significant improvement in the administration of justice by migrating from conventional labour-intensive court processes to a digital platform. Such platforms enhance efficiency in justice administration across the spectrum from case registration through to case decision. Digitisation also plays a key role in bringing about transparency.
However, in many countries, particularly in the developing world, the pace of economic and social development is hampered by many factors especially with regard to critical projects such as the digitisation of Court Infrastructure. Countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Vietnam among others are jurisdictions where access to justice and efficient delivery of justice are being severely compromised due to weighty manual legacy systems.
“Justice delayed is justice denied.”
ADVANTAGES OF AMIRIS
The AMIRIS System delivers 24/7 access to all stakeholders, be they Judges, Lawyers, Court Administrators, members of the public etc. This can be on an access control basis, depending on the case and what is pertinent to the respective persons of authority.
AMIRIS make claims processing faster, more reliable and convenient, minimising courthouse visits and reducing records storage and reproduction costs.
Reduction in the use of paper, the time spent in court, more affordable processing services, lower transportation costs, easier archiving of documents and easier payment of fees all contribute towards lowering costs.
The AMIRIS Digital Courts System makes archives more secure, while risks such as document loss, theft or removal of files and archive destruction can be significantly reduced or eliminated completely. eFILING minimises the costs of these risks, especially because paper documents can be misfiled or stolen. An eFILING system can improve file security and confidentiality by making it easier to restrict access to case files or documents sealed by court order. In addition, electronic files can be encrypted, providing additional security.
24/7 access to the AMIRIS Digital Courts System comprising Registries and Court Documents helps enhance transparency and access to justice.
Making judicial decisions more transparent generates the potential to attract trade and investment, fostering economic growth. Publishing cases rendered in a jurisdiction also allows attorneys and court users to better understand case law. Making decisions available to the public online helps make judges more accountable.
eFILING systems can also assist in the fight against corruption. If formal procedures are streamlined and claims are logged and filed electronically, there is less physical traffic in courthouses, thus reducing the potential for circumventing the proper process.
The AMIRIS Digital Courts System solution significantly extends the availability of access to justice given the 24/7 system for filing, registration and auctions. Moreover, providing remote access for judges makes the system convenient and efficient. Most systems employ extensive security to mitigate tampering with the integrity of files.
This system can also aid cases where distance makes it difficult for parties to attend, while making video conferencing a pragmatic solution. While some trials/hearing last only about 30 minutes, advocates, defendants and plaintiffs often spend much more time travelling to be physically present at court, thus video-conferencing saves time and costs, especially in jurisdictions with a large geographical footprint.
Malaysia's Implementation of AMIRIS
The full automation and digitisation of the Malaysian Courts Infrastructure has been carried out in successive phases since 2009. The integrated digital eCOURTS platform was introduced and developed by experienced technology specialists and subject matter experts, working in conjunction with the judiciary and legal fraternity, to deliver significant change to the Malaysian court operations.
The phases include:
- Implementation of Court Recording & Transcription (CRT) systems
- Introduction of original Case Management system in Commercial and Civil Courts – 8 locations
- Deployment of Electronic filing or eFILING – 8 locations
- Completion of development and roll-out of new enhanced eCOURTS platform, now live at 20 locations around the country. The platform features additional modules for criminal case filing, integration with external agencies/authorities, as well as mobile access for registered users.
SIGNIFICANT BENEFITS DELIVERED
For the Malaysian Judiciary, court operations, the legal fraternity and the public at large.
- Disposal timeline for current civil cases significantly shortened – now within 9 months for the High Court, 8 months for Sessions Courts and 6 months for Magistrates Courts.
- Significant Reduction in backlog of Pending Cases
- Reduction in time taken for filing and processing of new cases – down from 3 days to just 4 hours based on 1,000 new files per day for 16 courts with the process streamlined from 11 steps to 6 steps post-implementation of eFILING.
- Substantial cost-savings derived in headcount, storage and stationery, totalling some RM29.4 million [US$10 million] immediately following implementation of the initial phase of the eCOURTS solution with continued annual savings since.
- Far greater transparency in court processes and judicial operations, driving better accountability and access to justice.
- Recognition by World Bank of the drastic improvement in enforcing contracts due to the reduction in days required to process judgment and cases: Malaysia’s ranking jumped from 60th place to 29th place following implementation of eCOURTS.