As the global judicial system becomes more overwhelmed with a variety of legal cases, the somewhat interesting concept of e-courts has begun to take centre stage. Simply stated, e-courts are a proposed means by which pending and ongoing cases can be dealt with more efficiently by employing the use of electronics and the internet. Let us have a quick look at some of the fundamental characteristics of e-courts.
One of the most frustrating aspects of any legal proceeding is the amount of time it takes for a case to be presented to the court. Much of this delay comes in the form of paperwork filing and court fees. E-courts will be used to electronically expedite these aspects, allowing for pre-trial documentation and correspondence to take place via the internet as opposed to the often times lengthy physical appearances that all parties would normally have to make. This is especially relevant in family court, where the backlog on trials and judgments is considerable.
Another interesting benefit that e-courts provide is that the judge may not necessarily have to be present to hear a certain case. With the use of web conferencing and real-time communications software, a hearing can be held from various locations with all parties still enjoying the legal representation that the courtroom had previously provided. Criminal courts may benefit from this (if we also consider the high backlog as mentioned with family courts), as judges can take home electronic files as opposed to physical hard copies. This not only lessens the chance of a breach of privacy, but it also allows the judge to view a case in a less distracting environment.
A Way of the Future?
Although electronic filing and e-payments have become commonplace in the court system for a number of years, the potential advantage of remote viewing that e-courts offers is being taken quite seriously in the legal community. As the internet becomes further integrated into our daily activities, e-courts will undeniably become a more familiar alternative. Nonetheless, some jurisdictional procedures may need to be changed, and others feel that the traditional court system should remain firmly in place. Only time will decide how prevalent e-courts will become.