Elephants weigh in on the Go-Paperless debate

Remarkable statistics on how digitisation is saving ever-greater amounts of paper in law firms, local governments, tribunals and courts across the world make surprising reading.


The majestic African elephant is one of the world’s most beloved, not to mention heavy animals. In fact 55 of them would weigh in – on average – at a staggering 500,000 kilograms.

By a remarkable coincidence that’s exactly the same weight of paper that has been saved over the last four years by efficiently digitising UK criminal court processes via the CaseLines system. Or, to express the numbers in a different way, the number of individual pages saved has now reached in excess of 100 million sheets. If you consider that a typical criminal case demands an average of six printed bundles, that’s a total saving of at least 600 million pages – or a herd of 330 African elephants.

More amazingly those figures don’t take into account the savings in paper made by law firms, local governments and other courts around the globe. Precisely how many more elephants would be needed for that particular weigh-in has yet to be calculated. But we can be certain that the number grows ever larger by the day.

Taken as a whole, the savings in paper and costs are remarkable enough. But digitisation in general has also dramatically improved efficiency across a whole range of departments.

The wider benefits of Digitisation


Since May 2018, digitisation has led to over 35,000 applications for divorce being made online. As a result, the usual application errors have been slashed from 40% to less than 1%.

Another example is the HMCTS online civil money claims service. They received almost 60,000 applications over the last year, with the average claim taking just 10 minutes to issue electronically – a remarkable reduction from the 15 days it used to take with the old, paper based service!

All these facts caused Justice Minister, Lucy Frazer to comment:

“The Digital Case System is a great example of the benefit technology is bringing to our courts and tribunals. Not only has it saved a staggering amount of paper but it is making a real difference to legal professionals up and down the country every single day.”

And no less a person than the Lord Chief Justice, the Right Honourable Lord Burnett of Maldon added:

“The Digital Case System is just one example of how technology and modern ways of working are making a difference to people across the country and improving the way we administer justice.”

At the time of writing no African Elephant was available for comment. But there can be little doubt that the multiple benefits of digitisation (including saving hundreds if not thousands more trees to rub up against) would be something they would never forget.

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