City pulls into pole position on IT super highway, says report

The City of London is emerging as the world's leading user of information technology and is preparing to model itself as a commercial information super highway, according to the report 'Focus on IT in the City'.

The report was launched this week by the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists (WCIT), a group of 50 leading specialists from across the commercial sector.

Master of WCIT Sir Brian Jenkins dismissed the idea that the growth of City technology would isolate the City as a geographical location.

He says: “Information technology may well act as a centralising force in coming years, reinforcing many other factors which have led to the clustering of key individuals and organisations in the City.”

Professor Richard Susskind, management board member at City firm Masons wrote the legal sector study for the report. He says: “There is a remarkable degree of overlap between the sectors in so many technologies and applications.

“There is great scope for collaborative initiatives.”

As well as providing legal collaboration with other sectors, Susskind stresses the importance of IT in the courts and practitioners' offices.

Judges are increasingly making use of laptops to take notes and are also using litigation support systems for large-scale disputes. In addition real-time computer assisted transcription is increasing and legislation libraries are easily accessible on CD-ROM.

With this infrastructure in place, Susskind predicts there will be new ways of conducting legal business, including serving documents and concluding transactions electronically, video linking for certain court appearances to allow the giving of testimony and offering clients access to law firms' know-how systems.

Such changes could lead to the replacement of the present one-to-one legal advisory service with one more akin to a technical information system, and to a court routine conducted through terminals.

A number of City firms asked for their reaction confessed they had not heard of the IT initiative.