CaseLines announces emergency release of eBridge tool to help courts maintain services during the COVID-19 crisis
CaseLines today announced the release of eBridge a tool to support courts globally as they work to maintain service during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The eBridge tool, created in response to the current crisis, is an electronic bridge between the eFiling systems that many courts already have, and the electronic bundle, which courts now need for remote hearings. The eBridge tool allows courts to move to electronic bundles for hearings using existing filing protocols.
It works like this: the applicant for a case prepares their electronic bundle on CaseLines in the normal way. Before the electronic bundle is complete, they use the eBridge tool to download a one-page PDF document from CaseLines and submit it to the court, either by email or through the eFiling system at the courthouse. From that point on, secure access to the latest version of the electronic bundle is available via the links in the eBridge one-page PDF. All parties, including the judge and court staff, have access to the latest version of the electronic bundle from any location. Access is restricted to invited parties.
Courts around the world are urgently reviewing how to implement remote and virtual hearings. Existing conferencing tools such as Skype and Zoom allow the courts to see and hear the parties. With the eBridge tool parties can also see the latest evidence securely and collaborate effectively in the remote courtroom.
The Lord Chief Justice in England & Wales said last week, “It is clear that this pandemic will not be a phenomenon that continues only for a few weeks. At the best, it will suppress the normal functioning of society for many months. For that reason, we all need to recognise that we will be using technology to conduct business which even a month ago would have been unthinkable. Final hearings, and hearings with contested evidence, will inevitably be conducted using technology. Otherwise, there will be no hearings and access to justice will become a mirage.” (UK Civil court guidance on how to conduct remote hearings, 22nd March 2020, https://www.judiciary.uk/publications/civil-court-guidance-on-how-to-conduct-remote-hearings/). The eBridge tool is a step towards supporting courts everywhere as they respond to the challenges that Lord Justice Burnett has described.
“Our platform was designed from the outset to let users conduct remote or virtual hearings,” commented Paul Sachs, founder and CTO at CaseLines. “All parties have secure access to evidence in an online data room with proven legal and courtroom tools, enabling all parties to work in a remote hearing setting. During this crisis, our goal is to make it as simple as possible for courts to deliver flexible and secure electronic hearings and reduce the impact of the new ways of working on justice systems everywhere.”
The eBridge tool allows CaseLines users to deliver electronic bundles to the courthouse, continue to modify the bundles and work with others in the remote courtroom. Courts can be facilitated to use CaseLines. The requirement is internet access. Implementation is achieved in two days. Training is available online with access to support materials and coaching videos available thereafter.
The CaseLines platform allows legal staff to continue work on cases even if isolated at home, reduces the effort required to build and share case files, which will be essential as justice agencies find themselves increasingly short staffed, and already allows virtual and remote hearings.