Should the law ever go fully digital?
The legal system is undergoing a digital revolution. The Ministry of Justice launched its Criminal Justice System Strategy and Action Plan in 2013, committing to turning courtrooms paperless and fitting them with Wi-Fi. The police are adopting digital case-file management, while legal firms invest in new technologies to stay at the forefront of their business.
Nonetheless, you can still see clerks pushing crates of documents between the chambers and courts in Lincoln’s Inn. Despite the great potential of a digital system, it seems paper still cuts the mustard in certain circumstances. The importance of a physical document couldn’t be more tangible than with the Magna Carta – perhaps the UK’s most significant legal manuscript. 2015 marks 800 years since it was granted at Runnymede by King John. Although it was originally a peace treaty between the King and his rebel barons, Magna Carta established for the first time the principle that everybody, including the King, was subject to the law – something really worth writing down and hanging on to.
So what are the competing pressures in the legal system for modernisation and speed versus proof and longevity? And can the law ever hope to leave paper on the shelf for good?
Read my latest article in E&T magazine (you may need to sign up – it’s free) to weigh up the arguments.
See the British Library‘s Magna Carta collections in Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy from 13 March to 1 September 2015
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