Council lawyers receive industry accolades for launching innovative digital scheme

Published: Wednesday 17th May 17

A legal partnership of five London boroughs has been shortlisted for another industry award, recognising their innovative approach to providing council services.

The South London Legal Partnership is the UK’s first five borough shared legal service joining together the legal services of Wandsworth, Richmond, Merton, Kingston and Sutton councils.

It has been announced that the Partnership has been shortlisted for the ‘Going Paperless Project of the Year’ award in the GovNews Direct Public Sector Paperless Awards. The nomination recognises the Partnership’s role in creating a new, revolutionary scheme of ‘Paperless Courtrooms’.

The scheme moves away from the age-old tradition of printing huge bundles of legal documents for courtrooms. This makes it easier to create bundles that are automatically indexed and paginated, reducing the margin for error.

So far, 1,069 cases have been handled by Digital Courtrooms which are now running in three of London’s family courts and the South London Legal Partnership estimates that Digital Courtrooms has saved more than £800,000 since it began in March 2016.

Paul Martin, Chief Executive of Richmond and Wandsworth councils, said: “The success of the South London Legal Partnership has already proved that joining forces with other boroughs can make a positive difference in providing a quality in-house legal service while making significant financial savings. Bringing together the legal expertise of the boroughs legal teams has meant we can provide an even better and cost efficient service. This award nomination just highlights some of the innovative work they are now able to deliver."

Merton Council’s Chief Executive, Ged Curran, said: “We are delighted to be shortlisted for this award as going paperless has transformed the way family court cases are administered. Large bundles of paper in lever arch files which were previously couriered to the court by the local authority have been replaced with digital documents which can easily be updated and accessed throughout the case.”

The Chief Executive of Sutton Council, Niall Bolger, said: “The South London Legal Partnership has delivered a real positive change in the way we deliver legal services. An innovative approach to using technology means we are able to create digital court bundles, properly indexed and paginated ready for hearings, instead of having to rely on unwieldy bundles of paper. This frees up valuable court time and means that cases can be dealt with swiftly and efficiently. I’d like to congratulate everyone involved in the South London Legal Partnership for their efforts, and am proud to see recognition of this hard work from the Public Sector Paperless Awards.”

Kingston Council's Chief Executive, Charlie Adan, said: "Congratulations to The South London Legal Partnership for being shortlisted for this award. The SLLP has provided an innovative solution to help improve efficiency. Digital courtrooms have transformed the way family court cases are run, saving time and money whilst reducing the margin for error. The continuing success of the partnership has proven that working with our neighbouring boroughs can help us deliver top quality services to benefit residents."

The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony on 6 July.

Council lawyers set up the pilot project with two companies – Zylpha, which specialises in creating electronic bundles, and Project Fusion, who developed their online data room platform to transfer information securely.

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