I attended a demonstration by a small English company called Caselines of the software they have now designed and installed in every Crown Court in England and Wales.

The huge merit of the Caselines solution (which is not yet suitable for the very heavy trials that provide a tiny fraction of the total caseload of the criminal courts) is, as I have said, that it has been designed by highly skilled English programmers for English needs: indeed, the first main stage of a very long journey, we heard last week, was to go and ask English court users what they needed.

At this week’s event I spoke to Judge Alistair McCreath, who is about to stand down as the senior judge at the Southwark Crown Court (at which I used to sit occasionally as a Crown Court recorder 30 years ago).  His court centre had been one of the two major Crown Court centres which had piloted the software (now in universal use), and he spoke in glowing terms of the way its arrival had revolutionised the way in which judges are able to manage and try cases, from their court, from their home, or from anywhere in the world with internet access to which they may carry their laptop.  I was not surprised.

Of course, digitisation will bring its own problems in its wake, but what I saw last week was a real English success story, and we should be very proud of it.

Sir Henry Brook

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The Digital Court System – the future has arrived