Revenue and LCD use fraud trial as scanning test bed

By Elizabeth Davidson. THE Inland Revenue and the Lord Chancellor's Department (LCD) are using a complex fraud case at Southwark Crown Court in London to pilot scanning technology.

Prosecutors have been scanning paper copies of transcripts and witness statements onto laptop hard disks since the case began on 7 September.

Pilot manager Jonathan Epelle, of the Revenue's prosecution department, estimated that lawyers in the case now had on one laptop the information they would otherwise have carried about in 100,000 pages in 24 lever arch files.

The hard disks contain transcripts of every day of the trial so far and details of witnesses and exhibits. The judge, the jury and both sides' lawyers – there are 14 counsel altogether representing the defence and prosecution in the case – have access to a laptop, so they can look up details at the click of a button, saving minutes leafing through files.

Epelle said if the pilot was successful, the Revenue legal department hoped to buy a scanning system. He said that even if the scanning system saved only one day a week in a 10-week trial it would pay for itself, assuming the total cost of all counsel was £30,000 a day on average.

The Revenue and the LCD are using R/KYV scanners from Valid Information Systems, which developed the courtroom system. Transcripts were provided by Smith Bernal's LiveNote system.

The LCD is contributing one third and the Revenue two thirds of the system's cost.