Why the Future is eHearings

Why the Future is eHearings

  • Blog Post
  • Posted on 3 June 2019

The legal profession is notorious for lagging behind other industries when it comes to innovation. However, a wave of new technologies is now available which can revolutionise the way the legal system works.

Here are some of the numerous benefits to integrating cutting-edge tech into your next case.

Benefits for Document Management

Firstly, it is possible to access the latest document version at any time and anywhere. Instead of lugging around reams of paper or using email to update a hard drive with relevant documents, a cloud-based database can store and group an entire hearing book digitally. The technology can design the workspace to specification, including creating groups of users with different accessibility to secure evidence.

Team members can also review, annotate and comment 24/7 from anywhere in the world using a sophisticated cloud-based system. Any comments are shared in real time to all team members.

Another benefit of today’s technology is the ability to create and order a trial bundle and automatically create an index, without any internet connection.  This is an asset for time poor counsel.

Also, documents in an eHearings system are now searchable on almost any criteria imaginable, including words or phrases in the document as well as metadata behind the document. This is in contrast to the traditional digital file structure where a name or date of a file is needed to search.

Now, search results can be grouped together, downloaded or narrowed down by other criteria to find the files quickly.

Benefits in Witness Management

Getting a witness to a hearing can be challenging. Travel time, particularly if the witness’ schedule doesn’t line up with the court or arbitration centre, can significantly delay proceedings. The cost of delay, plus flights, accommodation and meals for your witness, can strain the deepest pockets. Today, a video conference team can facilitate testimony from anywhere in the world, so there’s no need for travel. The team can even manage the tech set up at a witness’ home or workplace.

Often, witnesses in court have experienced trauma. Even those able and willing to give testimony may struggle with the intimidating language, rituals and procedures in court. An eHearing set-up can alleviate this pressure. Witnesses can testify from somewhere they feel comfortable, such as their home.

Benefits for Evidence Presentation

Although electronic records have existed for years, in the past, email chains, files and digital media needed to be printed out and circulated before a judge could consider it or a witness could be questioned on it. Rifling through folders every time a document is referenced wastes time. Very quickly, it adds up to thousands of lost dollars. With an offline, coded document system, an eHearing operator can retrieve documents in seconds and display them on monitors in the hearing for everyone to view simultaneously.

Transcript services allow everyone to keep track of every word said during proceedings and review them later when the transcript is uploaded to the shared workspace. Software is installed on devices and accessed in the hearing or remotely by anyone with the login credentials and is managed by specialised on-site staff.

It takes enough time to read and consider hundreds of thousands of pages without wasting time frantically flipping through them in court. Transporting trolley-loads of documents to and from court offers further challenges. A hyperlinked hearing book makes finding documents much quicker.

Hyperlinked indices of every document can be prepared in a hearing book and made to design specifications that allows everyone to quickly find documents and their metadata, and open them with a single click.

Management of evidence is a logistical difficulty. Ensuring that the jury only sees evidence alongside contextualisation by counsel and don’t draw premature conclusions is challenging. An additional challenge is allowing juries to easily move between documents in the confines of the jury box when given huge, unwieldy evidence binders. A digital jury book significantly simplifies evidence management.

Digital jury books use password-protected tiers of evidence that give the judge and parties control over which evidence is viewed and when. In-built security procedures lockdown all networks and outputs from the devices, ensuring document security. Everyone in proceedings can annotate the documents and move between unlocked documents, allowing jurors to find documents quickly.

Making Hearings Truly Public

Unfortunately, not everyone interested in a public proceeding is able to physically attend it. Restrictions of location, work, mobility and transport may limit the actual transparency of proceedings if the only access is in person. Web-casting technology removes these barriers and truly makes hearings public.

eHearings can reduce costs, increase efficiency and give everyone more time to focus on the content of the case. With flexibility in applying the different technologies, crafting a suitable eHearing to accommodate any requirement is easy. The future of proceedings is eHearings – and the technology is available today.

For more information, contact us.

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