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In 1991, City firm Allison & Humphreys was instructed by Dutch reinsurer NRG to act in a £400m professional negligence claim which was heard in the Commercial Court in the Royal Courts of Justice last year. The defendants were Bacon and Woodrow, Ernst & Young and Swiss Bank.
During the preparation of the case and in the hearing itself, Allison & Humphreys used the document image management system, Aim Litigate, to manage the inspection, annotation, distribution and general handling of all the documentation relating to the matter. The system was also used in court to provide the client's representatives with rapid on-screen access to relevant documents.
Aim Litigate has five main components:
Facilities for scanning documents and storing image files which can be printed to create copies, allowing the originals to remain in the archives.
Storage facilities which enable large numbers of image files to be stored electronically and viewed on screen across a network of computers.
Cataloguing and annotation facilities which enable lawyers to inspect, catalogue and annotate each document.
Optical character recognition facilities to turn document images into text.
Search facilities to bring documents on screen or route them to a printer.
The case involved many witnesses, a large amount of correspondence between four sets of solicitors, many complex technical, factual and legal issues, and a vast amount of documentary evidence.
A local area network of computers in the firm's offices made the document database available to all lawyers working on the matter. During the trial, the offices of Allison & Humphreys and the courtroom were linked by a wide area network. Two screens in the courtroom could display images and conduct searches.
Stephen Gibbs, who headed the Allison & Humphreys team on the case, said: "When an unexpected issue was raised and we could remember only the briefest details of an obscure document which contradicted what a witness had said, we were able to locate it immediately using the search facilities and place it in front of counsel.
"Lawyers love bundles, and Aim Litigate enables you to put them together. Once created, they are ready for use whenever you might need them."