08 February 2018

Dubai trials go paperless

All cases at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts will be dealt with electronically from 1 July, as the government plans to go paperless by 2021.

By Catherine Baksi

”The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts will become the first court in the Middle East to introduce electronic working for all cases. All cases filed after 1 July must be run using electronic technology that will enable court bundles to be uploaded from anywhere in the world.

E-bundling service

The “e-bundling” service will enable judges, lawyers and court staff to access case information in various formats, across multiple locations and share with numerous users. The DIFC Courts will join the UK Supreme Court as one of five court systems globally to adopt the electronic or e-bundle technology. The new system will be introduced on 29 March, giving lawyers a three-month transition period, during which DIFC Courts will run training seminars to help them get to grips with it.

Paperless stategy

The announcement of the move came in the same week that Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, said that the Dubai government will be paperless by 2021. Amna Sultan Al Owais, chief executive & registrar of the DIFC Courts, said complex transnational cases are the "bread and butter of our court". Embracing technological advances and abandoning out-dated processes, he said, will enable judges and international teams of lawyers to work together on evidence in the cloud while the case is still being heard in court in real time. “The days of teams of lawyers bearing lever arch files will now be consigned to history,” he added.

UK-based supplier

The court will use secure cloud-based technology developed by UK-based company CaseLines, which allows lawyers to build evidence bundles for a hearing online, either from scratch or by importing a draft bundle created in an existing Case Management System (CMS), and does not require software to be installed. Rita Jaballah, partner at Al Tamimi & Co, said the system could significantly improveme the way cases are managed. “Time is precious in litigation, and this user-friendly technology provides a seamless service that will allow us to work more efficiently and cost effectively with our teams, wherever we are situated in the world.”

Video streaming

David Jackson, director of CaseLines, said: 'As well as saving approximately 200 trees per month and improving the productivity of administration staff bundle creation by 300 per cent, some of the practical innovations include CaseLines offers lawyers video streaming using a secure YouTube-style interface to show video evidence in court, along with audio and video conferencing from the digital case file, and automatic hyperlinking of evidence documents.'

Document accessibility

The DIFC Courts’ adoption of the CaseLines e-bundle solution forms part of on-going efforts to improve the accessibility of case documents. Last year, the Courts developed a mobile-friendly in-house Case Management System (CMS), connecting various departments and functions within the organisation and providing them with easy access to information.

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