A pilot program, underway in the NSW Local Court, is quietly revolutionising the way courts do business.
NSW is pioneering online legal services in Australia with the State's first Online Court. The pilot is part of the Department's $9.2 million Justice Online Project which includes enhancements and additional forms for the existing Online Registry. Since 2014, the legal profession and community have used the Online Registry to file forms online, download court documents, search court lists and more.
The Online Court is a new digital service which enables legal practitioners to seek interlocutory orders outside of court hours, translating directly to savings in time and effort otherwise required to attend court.
Similar to the Online Registry, the Online Court removes the need to go to court in person by providing an opportunity to deal with call-overs in civil matters from the legal practitioner's office.
In case management, call-over is a process which happens in the lead up to a hearing. When a plaintiff makes a claim and the defendant lodges a defence, the matter is listed. Usually, there would be a four week wait before a solicitor attends court to request for orders such as adjournment for further call-over or hearing date.
Considerable time is spent travelling to and from court to attend call-overs, not to mention having to find their opponent for each case and waiting in line with other legal practitioners. Most legal practitioners set aside half a day for this activity even if they are based in the city.
With the Online Court, as soon as the matter is listed, solicitors log on, request orders and even upload documents. All this is done in minutes in a court that is always open for business.
Being an online service also means greater equality of access for suburban-based lawyers and remote court clients.
The Project Team thoroughly researched and tested the Online Court design with practitioners and registrars to ensure ease of use and relevance to their day-to-day work. If the experience of the Online Registry is anything to go by, the Online Court will soon be bustling with activity.
Since the Online Registry began, more than 250,000 Supreme, District and Local Court forms have been lodged online. More than 30 per cent of all transactions are now occurring after hours. Nearly 5,000 people are also turning to the online registry or mobile app every day to search for court listings.
In the next phase of the Online Court the project team will be looking at matters in the Supreme Court.
For more information, visit https://onlineregistry.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/content/