This chapter tracks the response of Australian courts to rapid advances in ICT. It shows how, despite early resistance and a reactive approach to technology, Australian courts have been transformed by the challenges of implementing ICT. It illustrates with case studies the way Australian courts have drawn on each experience to improve their processes, and have come to lead the world in using practice notes and protocols as a control measure for procedural change. It reviews current experiences in Australian jurisdictions, presenting courts who now see ICT as a tool for managing workflows throughout their organisation. The authors foresee the challenge for Australian courts will be keeping this control, and contend that courts who achieve this are more likely to have ICT as the servant, not the master, of the justice process. They anticipate that Australia’s success can be seen as a paradigm for other courts facing similar challenges
Introducing Ict To The Courtroom
It should have been no surprise that this is the tension that has bound courts as they have come to deal with the introduction of technology. Advances out in wide society have now entered courtroom processes. We see litigation over commercial deals where not one piece of paper has been created. We see litigants exchange massive volumes of documents in the discovery process, entirely by electronic means. We see the court administrators looking to have courts become more accessible and efficient, having paper documents converted to electronic format, and introducing electronic filing processes so they can handle every document in a case electronically. Ultimately, stepping into the courtroom, we see ICT everywhere we look.
This is more than just a change in pace for courts; it could be a threat to the nature of the processes themselves. Courts should reflect the society in which they operate, so it is fundamental that the usual means of communication in society be available in courts as a part of their process and as a part of the information produced to them in delivering justice. Nevertheless, they have to do so in ways that will still fulfil their imperatives: