JusticeLink to unify NSW courts

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JusticeLink to unify NSW courts

The NSW justice system is undergoing a high tech overhaul....at a price.

JusticeLink, a NSW government initiative, is expected to revamp the state’s justice system IT infrastructure. The application developed by KAZ Group – a subsidiary of Telstra – will link the state’s courts on a single computer platform.

“This streamlined system will greatly assist in the handling of serious criminal cases in NSW, which pass through more than one court before being finalised,” said Angus Huntsdale, departmental spokesperson, NSW Attorney General’s Department. “The supreme court registry has begun using JusticeLink to process criminal matters, with the local and district courts to soon follow suit.”

The cost of the project has already proven to be a bone of contention, with the estimated final figure rising to $48.2 million, a $3.4 million increase. This brings more negative attention to an initiative that was originally scheduled for completion in 2006.

Peter Achterstraat, auditor-general, NSW government stated in a parliamentary report: “While the original contract price for the project has not varied, the department is currently involved in contract negotiations with the software developer for the remaining stages of the project.

“The negotiations are expected to include a rebate from the developer for functionality that is no longer required. The total capital cost for the project is now estimated at $48.2 million, with $8.1 million in recurrent expenditure.”

The attorney general’s department doesn’t appear phased by the delay, choosing instead to focus on the future and the potential benefits of the program.

“This will be a significant milestone in the evolution of court case management as it will reduce the justice system’s reliance on paper copies of documents,” said Huntsdale.

According to Mike Foster, managing director of KAZ Group, the standout feature of JusticeLink is its adaptability to future changes to the law.

“The highly sophisticated software separates the business rules from the core system, which will reduce the time and cost of modifying the system when laws and legal procedures are amended,” said Foster.

The new system is being introduced over several phases to minimise disruption to court sittings. It is predicted that by the end of next year, JusticeLink will be operating in all of the state's criminal and civil courts.
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