Government will spend “just about one million dollars” on an e-filing software developed by the Caribbean Court of Justice to slash the time for litigation to work its way through Barbadian courts, Attorney General Dale Marshall has announced.
The announcement of the new technology, was made as the House of Assembly passed Evidence (Miscellaneous) Provisions Bill, comes just ahead of the September 9th start of the new court year.
The Caribbean-made software being developed under the CCJ’s Apex project which intends to create an electronic record of an individual from police station to court to prison and probation office comes at a fraction of the cost earmarked by the previous administration, Marshall said. The Stuart administration had allotted $4 million dollars to get a similar system from a tech firm in Singapore.
Marshall disclosed there was also an added annual licence fee of one million dollars a year.
Explaining the new e-filing system, the Attorney General said: “In the new system when you have a case to file you go to your lawyer he takes your information and without having to set foot in our high court registry.
“He will prepare the documents you will sign them he will hit a button on his computer and off the documents will go to the Registry. Nobody has to get in a car.
“Nobody has to walk across there in the hot sun. Nobody has to stand up before a legal assistant and take an oath.
“All that will be a thing of the past.
“Some people say if it isn’t broke don’t fix it but it is broken.”
The AG described the current way of filing an affidavit as anachronistic and archaic.
He declared: “By e-filing we are putting into place an arrangement, in law, where individual cases instead of them having to go to the Registry and swear affidavit and then come back to their lawyer’s office and then the documents have to be sent back cross by a court clerk to be filed and you pay $20 or $30 or $40 to a cashier we are moving all of those out of the system.
“They are anachronistic, they are archaic and we can do a lot better.”
Marshall further explained: They go before a legal assistant who takes the document that process involves taking a Bible in your hand and saying the oath and the legal assistant asks are the contents of this document true and you say, ‘So help me God,’ and you sign and that’s it.
“It has to be filed physically at the Registry we have problems with mould from time to time documents are mislaid sometimes there are even downright misplaced all of these are the perils of a paper-based system.”
The Attorney General said the justice system, which has been slammed repeated by CCJ justices for lengthy delays in court cases, stands to benefit immensely from the proposed changes.
Marshall said: “We have to change a whole set of rules which will allow the registry to accept documents electronically.
“We are going to change rules in the way you serve documents on other parties electronically. We are going to have to change rules which will allow you to pay filing fees electronically.
“We believe that the implementation of these changes will contribute significantly in terms of savings on time, deployment of resources, and overall in the reduction of cost.” (IMC)