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Forensic accountants to face giving ‘paperless’ evidence in Court

Member: Nifa

The Crown Prosecution Service is to experiment with ‘paperless’ criminal trials as lawyers in selected Courts are given laptops and electronic tablets.

The plan could mean expert witnesses including forensic accountants giving evidence electronically rather than being questioned using large bundles of documents.

The moves comes as the CPS tries to cut its budget by twenty five per cent and improve efficiency by reducing unnecessary transport costs.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer told Guardian Law that: "at the moment we use vans, lorries and people to move these mountains of legal paper around the country on a daily basis. It’s time the electronic case file became a common basis." He added: "I would like to see prosecutors arriving at court carrying a laptop with no papers being passed to the defence, both having been served the documents electronically." Finally, Mr Starmer said that he wanted to see: "the results of the case and notification sent back to the victims online."

Critics of the move say that complete digital justice could be problematic as lawyers face difficulties taking electronic information into prisons and claimants cannot apply for legal aid online.

The DPP has already successfully trialled the new system at a hearing in Winchester, is developing the systems at Norwich Crown Court and plans to launch the change nationwide next April.


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