COURT

Tablet computers in the Environment Court improve efficiency

Tuesday 11 December 2012, 8:08PM
By Chester Borrows
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Two recent trials of tablet computers in courts have yet again demonstrated the potential of new technology to improve court efficiency, says Courts Minister Chester Borrows.

The most recent trial – an Environment Court hearing to consider a proposed coal mine on the Denniston Plateau – is currently nearing completion.

“We are constantly looking for ways to improve, modernise and make our courts more efficient.  Using tablets, such as iPads, instead of volumes of paper is a perfect example of this in action,” says Mr Borrows.

Putting documents on tablets allow judges to quickly search through case material during the trial, as well as enabling electronic note taking, making transport of information easier and allowing judges to access the internet. Hearings are also completed faster, with reduced costs for all participants.

“Court hearings, especially those in the Environment Court traditionally involve a large amount of paper. By loading documentation onto tablets we can reduce hearing times, have less impact on the environment and use technological advances to their full potential.”

As well as the Environment Court, tablets are also being trialled by the Waitangi Tribunal.

“The Waitangi Tribunal also uses a lot of paper. A recent hearing held in Te Kuiti in early November saw the first move towards using tablets in the Tribunal.”

“Four out of the five tribunal members opted to use only their tablets for the entire week and never once reverted back to the paper-based system.

“I understand the technology worked very well by enabling members to connect to the Department of Internal Affairs’ shared workspace and they had full access to over 600 documents during the hearing. This enabled a faster more efficient process and saved almost 40,000 pieces of paper.

“I commend the Environment Court and the Waitangi Tribunal for trialling this novel initiative and look forward to receiving feedback from those involved.”