May 11, 2009

I have just posted a news item on the SCL site which touches upon the report by Lord Justice Jackson – his preliminary report as part of the Civil Litigation Costs Review. That news item deals with e-disclosure only but I have looked at the rest of the report.

Before I criticise, I should start with two admissions. I have not even got close to reading the full report. Moreover what I have read is insightful, well ordered and astonishingly readable.

But looking back at Woolf, and that is not so long ago, I remember a degree of enthusiasm for the use of IT and the wider use of technological solutions to improve justice and to cut litigation costs. And I recall a real hope that technology did offer solutions, not just quicker ways to do lots more. That was reflected in the fact that the Civil Procedure Rules, r 1.4(2)(k) indicated that part of the all important active case management involved ‘making use of technology’.

So where has that enthusiasm and that hope gone? Even e-disclosure systems are damned with faint praise and they are supposed to be the shining example of a technological solution to a litigation problem. (For what it’s worth, I think they get inadequate praise and are underappreciated by the GC 100 Group for sure.)

The time when we believed that alternative dispute resolution, scarcely ever leaving the electronic sphere, was the panacea have long gone. Where are the big IT-based ideas to cut the Gordian knots to which Lord Justice Jackson refers?