Paperless Dream Is Over At Rolls Building As ‘Cutting Edge’ E-Filing System Is Axed

Much has been made of how modern the new "state-of-the-art" Rolls Building court complex is.

There are “super courts”, spiral staircases that hum with full wi-fi connectivity, and, perhaps most hyped of all, a “cutting edge” e-filing system designed to make the court paperless.

Speaking around the time of the court’s opening in August last year, Bar Council chair Michael Todd expressed excitement at this new era of e-working: "The idea is to have an almost paperless court. As lawyers, we are so accustomed to thumbing through bundles of paper. It should be possible to work with less paperwork."

Well, that was the idea. Sadly, though, nobody used the e-filing system because it worked so badly. And then last month it got axed.

An email obtained exclusively by Legal Cheek details how the “significant problems” the system encountered saw it permanently shut down on 20 April because the cost of fixing it would be too high.

I’ve published the email in full below.

Dear All

Since late 2008, HMCTS have been working with MoJ ICT to provide an Electronic Working System for the jurisdictions of the Royal Courts of Justice now located in the Rolls Building.

Initial good progress was made however over the last 12-18 months significant problems with the system began to emerge.

The seriousness of those problems has now become apparent, as has the likely cost of remediation.

The HMCTS Board reviewed the position at their meeting on 30th March 2012 and reluctantly endorsed a recommendation to stop the project and shut down the system.

HMCTS and MoJ ICT remain fully committed to delivering, at the earliest opportunity, an electronic filing, document management and listing system to support the jurisdictions of the Rolls Building.

Planning for that is now underway and a new project will be initiated through the standard government procurement and Cabinet Office approvals processes.

Work is now underway to plan for an orderly shut down of the system.

The RCJ eWorking Service mailbox is no longer available. For advice on how to issue case papers electronically or in hard copy, please use the following numbers:

- Commercial Court: 020 7947 6112

- Technology & Construction Court: 020 7947 6022

- Chancery Division: 020 7947 6571.

XXXX XXXXX
XXXXX XXXXXXX Manager Rolls Building
7 Rolls Buildings
Fetter Lane
London
EC4A 1NL

The good news is that plans are afoot to resurrect the e-working dream.

An HMCTS (Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Services) spokesperson said:

"HMCTS and MoJ ICT remain fully committed to delivering, at the earliest opportunity, an electronic filing, document management and listing system to support the jurisdictions of the Rolls Building. We have terminated the contract with the current supplier and planning is now underway for a new project to be initiated through the standard government procurement and approvals processes."

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