Helen Sage reports
A courtroom computer service which combines full text searching and real-time transcription with annotation facilities is being introduced in the UK.
The PC-based software system, which has already been in use in Australia for six months, allows users to view transcripts and search for particular words, phrases expressions. Users can highlight particular sections of transcripts and attach notes or annotations.
Stephen Foley, managing director of Imago Computer Solutions which developed Transcript Analyser for Windows, claims that Australian judges using the system are saving at least one hour a day.
In a recent television interview, Mr Justice James Wood said that the use of technology was halving the time the case is taking. Justice Wood is presiding over the Royal Commission into the New South Wales police force which is using Transcript Analyser.
Imago is currently concentrating on the document searching and annotation facilities of its product, but the company hopes the full system will run in competition with the existing real-time systems used in UK courts – Smith Bernal's LiveNote and Caseview for Windows.
Graham Smith, managing director of Smith Bernal's court reporting service has not seen Transcript Analyser in action but believes the product could be a serious competitor to LiveNote.
"Imago seems to be fairly switched on," he said.
However, he added: "The problem is there are only 18 court reporters who can use real-time systems in the UK and all of those are used by us and CaseView.
"Maybe what Imago does not understand is that unlike Australia the manufacturers of courtroom technology in the UK control the whole service component.
"Imago is simply marketing its software without any other services.
"Quality of input is the most important factor, software is only a small part of the package."