3. Concept of e-Litigation
e-Litigation is an integrated system that is conceptualised to replace the Electronic Filing System (EFS). It is designed to assist Law Firms and the Courts throughout the entire litigation processes − from filing of electronic Court documents, to the scheduling of hearings, billing, collection and maintenance of financial records of transactions. With the use of the e-Litigation system, Law Firms and Courts can work together on a transparent, seamless and secure environment leveraging on the connectivity and accessibility of the Internet.
The scope of e-Litigation:
Electronic Filing Service
This allows Law Firm Users to file and submit documents electronically to the Courts. Case files and other relevant documents are more likely to be in accordance with Court rules and standards as pre-defined templates are used.
Case Information Repository
The Case Information Repository allows individual Law Firm Users to have a virtual storage of all files and documents that are relevant to the cases they are handling. The repository allows them to easily retrieve the needed documents, update and store it for future reference.
This allows a Law Firm to electronically and cost-effectively serve Court documents to other Law Firms. It minimizes the time spent on serving Court documents through hardcopy means.
Notifications and Alerts
Law Firm Users can be notified of any updates about the cases they are handling.
Calendaring and Hearing Dates
This allows the users to view and select the available hearing dates within the time frames defined by the Courts.
Reports about financial transactions on a particular case can be automatically generated based on the criteria set by the user. Case-level information on charges incurred would also be available.
Court Replies and Notifications (Mailbox)
This allows the users to see and access a list of the recent cases that they have created, filed and submitted.
Search for Created and Filed Cases/Quick Access
The Search function allows the users to look for cases that they have created or filed. For Quick Access, it gives the users an option to directly perform certain actions, such as filing a new case, document or request.
Necessity/Advantages of e-Courts
The usage of video conferencing facilities plays an important role in “social distancing”, which is the need of the hour. Therefore, by preventing physical hearings which hasten the spread of infection and crowding, video conferencing will completely help in observing “social distancing “
As per the established practice, the documents and submissions made are filed in at least duplicates or triplicates depending upon number of judges, etc. if we substitute these practices with e-filing of documents we can save substantial quantities of paper. E-filing of appeals / paper books is a very achievable goal since most records are already available / submitted in soft form before lower authorities. With video conferencing and especially e-filing facilities we can go paperless which will have huge benefits not only from making our offices paper free, but in turn will have far reaching environmental benefits also since being humane and not disturbing the ecological balance is one of the biggest takeaways.
Video conferencing can be used in almost any kind of legal matter including bail application, remand hearing, civil matters like matrimonial disputes, criminal proceedings, etc. as has already been the practice in India in special cases. The sole requirement of the act is that the court just requires the oral evidence to be made before it. Hence, the evidence can be presented before the courts by the way of video conference or other electronic means as well.
Remote-conferencing i.e., video conferencing from remote locations will help us overcome the geographical hurdle in physical appearances. Lawyers or litigants can be situated in one state and still appear for a case in another state, in India. we can maximise our resources, save time and money in travelling to different courts or tribunals and therefore redirect our efforts in achieving higher productivity.
Digitalization of operating systems has always brought out more efficiency and transparency. Video conferencing will further help to bring out more transparency as the entire hearing can be recorded and kept as an archive for future reference, keeping alive the spirit of courts of record.
Some of the key benefits of e-Litigation include:
Convenient and secure access to the web-based service
Filing can be completed online or saved for submission at a later time
Use of dynamic electronic court forms in place of PDF
Full access to all documents in a case as long as it remains active
Management of case files through e-mail and SMS reminder alerts
Calendaring and Hearing Management Module to allow for greater flexibility in the selection of hearing dates