The Use Of Internet: Judicial E-Filing By Faith Pupere

                     


 Photo Credit: Serve Now


The law in practice is indeed a cumbersome profession that requires a troupe of tireless personnel who perform multifarious duties to ensure the success of a case or proceeding at hand; the process of which is painstaking. The judicial practice has for long been a paper, pen and library research oriented profession. In other words, documentations were based on paper and files stored in shelves. Basically, this has been the professional statuesque with a consequential backlog of uncompleted and unauthenticated documents. This effectively, has attracted avoidable financial expenses, bureaucracy and red-tapism. The resultant effect now becomes delay in justice; as justice delayed is justice denial. This hereby, ultimately reduces public confidence in the system.


Public expectation on the judiciary seem to have been a concern to the system and this has however pricked the judicial system into initiating an advanced procedural and filing system; Electronic filing with the use of the internet, aimed at increasing efficiency in the judicial system.


The long process of filing a suit case, the ado of transporting, signing files and documents, waiting  to accept briefs and bills in office, the ordeal of appearing and re-appearing in court at the adjournment of a case, especially at a very far distance, waiting to be served a memorandum of argument, etc. have all with no doubt, created a backlog in the judgmental process of the judiciary. To remedy this position, Prof. Harish Survayashi in his article, ‘use of internet in legal practice’ presented information technology as ‘the wave of the future in the practice of law’. This posits the quintessential purpose of the internet to the law profession. This to me is the revelation of the tip of the ice-berg as regards the importance of the use of the internet as the salvation to the law profession.


The importance of the internet to judicial filing, procedures and practices cannot be over-emphasized especially in the aspect of enhancing and promoting access to justice and judicial information. As an example, Electronic filing is a feature in Lagos state judiciary information system [JIS] this enables legal counsels and customers to file a case from anywhere in the world using the internet. The judicial information system was launched in Lagos on the 6th of October 2013/2014 legal year. It is aimed at assisting the judicial personnel and litigants in case management, filing and making payment via a secured web portal through which judicial personnel can pay their fees online from the comfort of their chambers. It also assist counsels to keep track of their cases from anywhere via the internet and better accounting for incoming revenue. The state attorney general and commissioner for justice, Ade Ipaye said at a stake-holders summit on judiciary information system [JIS] introduction of e-filing and an appraisal of the Lagos State High Court Procedure Rules 2012, organized by the state judiciary that the system will no doubt ensure speedy dispensation of justice. The Attorney General who was represented by the State’s Solicitor, General Lawal Pedro, said he was looking forward to a time when all civil actions will be dispensed within the shortest possible time. Ipaye’s statement on the improvement of Lagos state judiciary states thus “Lagos is brazing the trail as an ICT compliance state by introducing e-filing as done in other jurisdiction notwithstanding the issue of power bedeviling the country.


Generally, some of the importance of the use of internet to the judicial profession, of a few to mention include: 


  1. It becomes easier for legal counsels to enhance case management in filing cases and making payment over secured web portal with a credit or debit card from the comfort of their chambers.
  2. The use of JIS will ensure conflicts are resolved fairly, timely, transparently and economically by leveraging on enabling technology.
  3. It grants improved access to law and judicial information by several means which includes communication.
  4. Record of court proceedings can be ensured with the use of internet compliant devices.
  5. Computer based modules can assist litigants develop forensic related skills to functional levels.
  6. It is expected to enhance judgmental process avoiding a backlog of undecided cases


It is trite that change is the only constant thing. George Bernard stated that ‘progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything’. Despite the prevailing fundamental statuesque of the law profession it may take a new delve into use of the internet for enhanced judicial practice.

 

 

 

 

 


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