Victoria's courts to go electronic for documents

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Victoria's courts to go electronic for documents

Pilot sets path for wider rollout.

All Victorian courts will receive a new electronic document lodgement platform following successful deployments at the County Court and VCAT (Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal).

The project consists of an Azure-hosted document submission portal alongside a new case file system, known as MCMS. These new systems will integrate with a pre-existing document management platform and case management system.

Under the new setup, court documents associated with a case will be managed through MCMS, while the procedural records of each court case will be managed through the old case management system.

While MCMS can be used as a full case management system, implementing its full capabilities is beyond the scope of the current project, Court Service Victoria said. It will look at replacing the current case management system down the track.

The new systems were initially piloted in the County Court Circuit courts, and were rolled out to VCAT in October 2014 and the criminal division of the County Court in April 2015.

They are currently being implemented in the Magistrates Court, and will eventually go live in all Victorian courts.

Avoka Technologies supplied the external lodgement portal, which is hosted in Azure to ensure the solution did not disrupt the state Justice Department's bandwidth limitations.

The rest of the application is hosted on premise, Court Services Victoria project director Pauline Diano said.

Her team partnered with court case management software provider McGirr on both solutions.

After standing up both systems, the team used APIs to integrate to its existing HP WorkSite platform for document management as well as the 14-year-old Unix-based case management system used in Victorian courts.

Diano told iTnews the new platforms had significantly reduced the manual handling of documents in court.

“Before, the document management system was separate and court files were 100 percent manual, meaning no changes happened unless someone opened a case file and manually updated it,” Diano said.

“Now when someone files a document, that information automatically feeds into the document management system and case management system.

“So, for example, if someone files a document, that will be automatically reflected in the court file without manual intervention. That’s something that didn’t happen before.”

The project was both necessitated and made more challenging by the 14-year-old Unix-based case management system used in Victorian courts, known as CLMS (case listing management system).

“Each court has its own case management system. They’re legacy systems that don’t do all the courts need them to. What we did was add to our capabilities by making files accessible and making the process more automated,” Diano said.

County Court of Victoria senior project officer Grace Ong said the court had wanted an external lodgement platform that could integrate with its internal document management system.

“The County Court’s then-chief judge, now retired former chief judge Michael Rozenes, specified the electronic external lodgement portal was needed to ensure that the electronic case file could be relied on and was complete," she said.

“That is ensuring that practitioners could lodge their documents directly into the electronic case file, so as to minimise or at times remove the need for manual processing by the registry staff and the judges’ associates.”

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