Dealing with a contentious legal situation is something that we may all have to contend with at some point in our lives. Whether it’s to dispute the validity of a Will, to take an employment matter to a tribunal, or to solve a family issue, litigation proceedings are more common than you might initially think.
For many years, the litigation process remained largely unchanged. However, in recent times, there have been a number of technological advancements which are helping to significantly streamline the process – even more so since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Whether it’s being used to help resolve family law disputes or complicated commercial litigation law, technology is slowly driving the future of litigation. So, what sort of technologies are working their way into the mainstream? Take a look…
What do we Mean by Litigation?
Put simply, litigation is the process of taking a legal dispute to a court of law. If the parties involved in a legal dispute are unable to reach an agreement between themselves, or after the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution methods, they will then proceed to court to put forward their cases.
In litigation cases, all of the relevant parties will usually have legal representatives on their side to help prepare their case and defend them in front of a judge. While litigation can be used to help solve a wide range of matters, the most common tend to focus on:
- Commercial disputes (such as contractual matters or employment law)
- Family law disputes (such as a divorce)
- Personal injury claims (such as a road traffic accident)
- Probate disputes (such as a contested Will)
What Technologies Are Shaping the Future of Litigation?
Before the Covid-19 pandemic forced us all to quickly retreat to our homes, many of us had never even heard of the likes of Zoom or Microsoft Teams. However, these video conferencing softwares quickly took off, as everybody looked for a way of carrying out certain procedures without having to meet in person.
Now, video conferencing software is commonplace – even after the worst of the pandemic appears to be behind us. Even after social distancing measures have been eased, video conferencing is still being widely used to help complete certain tasks, including any related to the litigation process.
Now, meetings can be held anywhere and at any time, which means the process is made much quicker and more convenient, helping to reduce costs in the process.
A Growing Shift Towards Electronic Evidence
It appears as though law and technology are becoming increasingly intertwined as evidence is now becoming primarily electronic. The European Parliamentary Research Service defines electronic evidence as “any data that can serve as evidence, regardless of whether it is stored on or generate, processed or transmitted by an electronic device.”
Electronic evidence may include ‘content data’ such as emails, text messages or photographs, and ‘non-content data’ such as subscriber and traffic data.
The continued advancement of the internet, as well as features like cloud computing, have increased the reliance on electronic evidence as a means of resolving litigation. As time goes on, this is only likely to become even more prevalent.
Online Legal Advice
Long gone are the days when you would have to head to a law firm’s physical office to discuss your legal situation and the sort of work that needs to be carried out. Instead, legal services are becoming increasingly digital, with some firms dumping their physical office altogether.
In many ways, this makes the litigation process much simpler. Nowadays, it’s easy enough to navigate to a firm’s website, fill in an enquiry form and wait for a quick response that can help you take the next step.
This has also led to an increase in the number of people seeking out legal advice in the first place. For many people, the prospect of speaking to a lawyer can be an incredibly daunting one – especially for complex matters – so the opportunity to do this online is often much more appealing.
One of the most interesting technological developments in the world of litigation is the incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI).
Taking commercial law matters as an example, legal teams are beginning to use existing case data and digitised case law to check on hypothetical case outcomes on various commercial cases. Systems that are capable of applying facts and predicting case outcomes are referred to as ‘neural networks’.
Data scientists have suggested that these systems are already being trained to accurately predict the outcome of cases. This means they could be used by the judiciary to provide judgement on low value cases in the near future.
Over the past few years, there have been a number of advancements in litigation-specific tools which are particularly helpful for members of the legal profession. For example, digital dictation tools are increasingly being used to offer real-time transcription in the court.
There are also rumblings that these could be developed even further over the coming years. For example, discussions have been raised about the possibility of linking real-time transcriptions to software which can cross-reference any prior oral evidence given in court and documents available in the case.
This would help to reduce the risk of any mistakes occurring during the litigation process, and reduce the reliance on copious note taking and memory among the present legal teams.
What Do You Think About the Future of Litigation?
So, as you can tell from the information in this post, technology is increasingly being utilised to help shape the future of litigation. As we’ve discussed, there are still plenty of developments on the horizon – you never know what might be next!
What are your thoughts on the future of technology and litigation? Feel free to leave them in a comment below!