LCD blueprint heralds virtual future for law

Virtual court hearings and legal information kiosks in shopping malls are among the advances envisaged by the Lord Chancellor's Department (LCD) in a consultation paper launched last week.

The paper, which will form the basis of a 15-year strategy for IT and the courts, goes beyond Lord Woolf's Access to Justice proposals and embody many ideas from Professor Richard Susskind's seminal work, The Future of Law.

Ideas include a network of legal specialists giving pro bono legal advice via video conferencing and an interactive Web site.

LCD minister of state Geoff Hoon said the Government would make a “significant” IT investment, although the amount has not been decided.

Susskind, the Lord Chief Justice's IT adviser, said the launch of the paper marked a “huge day” for the computers and law community.

He said: “For the last 10 years that community has been campaigning for the Government to make long-term plans for computer strategy.”