As a trainee barrister, the prospect of lawyers advocating in paperless courts is exciting. It is remarkable to reflect on the times when copies of court documents were made by hand; technological advancements have prompted the extensive production of documentary material in court, shaping courtroom advocacy.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court of Gibraltar very helpfully allowed for the electronic issuing of claims and electronic filing of documents which has been greatly welcomed by many in the legal profession. Cogitating on the benefits of the electronic transmission of documents preempting the discourse of a court trial or hearing, the idea of digitising advocacy seems logical. As the majority of court documentation is already in electronic format, there would be no need to duplicate documents or collate bundles for court. It would save on time, costs and would increase efficiency.
The importance and significance of technology in courtrooms should not be overlooked. It is emphasised by the court’s duty to further the overriding objective by using technology to actively manage cases; enabling the court to deal with cases justly and at a proportionate cost. Digitising advocacy could be a supplementary mechanism to the current system and may in fact be another welcomed approach. It allows advocates to still use paper bundles where they feel necessary but also provides the innovative opportunity to use e-bundles and modernise advocacy.
The chief (and very considerable) benefit of having the documents on computer lies in transportability, reproducibility and referencing.