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Government to bring court services online

Small claims will be filed via email

The government is sponsoring a number of pilot projects in an effort to move its civil and family courts into the internet age, a move which will eventually allow people to make civil claims using PCs and digital TV.

The Lord Chancellor's Department outlined its proposal for bringing a variety of court services online in a consultation paper "Modernising the Civil Courts," the government said in a statement on Monday.

Some of the proposals include "Virtual court" which will allow people to file small claims using email, the internet and digital TV; providing 24 hour access to court and legal information online (for example, providing video links to a Citizen's Advice Bureau) and bringing technological conveniences to the judiciary in the form of electronic case filings, electronic presentation of evidence, digital audio recording, video conferencing as well as providing in-court computers for the immediate access to court files and email, the Lord Chancellor's Department said.

The internet proposals have already received £43 million in funding, and the government plans to publish its blueprint for enacting the proposals by the third quarter, the Lord Chancellor's Department said. In the meantime, the government is inviting feedback on its pilot programs until 21 April.

A touch screen kiosk service pilot project will be launched "shortly" providing some users in libraries in Shropshire online legal information and court forms as well as video hook-ups to a local Citizens Advice Bureau where they can obtain on-screen legal advice for such matters as how to file a particular form to the court.

Furthermore, in the next financial year beginning 7 April, the government plans to start a pilot project allowing individuals and small businesses to issue small claims and receive judgements and warrants over the internet, the Lord Chancellor's Department said.


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