Information technology played a critical role in Baker & McKenzie's recent representation of a respondent in an international arbitration hearing.

Part of the discovery event ually squeezed from the claimants was a ticket sales database which recorded important information about their sales activities. The database was disclosed in an unwieldy DOS format. We used Microsoft Access to convert the data into its own, more flexible and user-friendly format, enabling lawyers working on the case to perform complex data searches quickly and easily.

At the hearing the parties had agreed to use the simultaneous transcript system, Transcript Analyser, supplied and supported by Imago Computer Solutions. Transcript Analyser offers a live link to a remote site by a normal telephone line (Imago call this Court View Plus). The cost of this link was £49 a day (including the BT line charge) plus a one-off fee of £375 – insignificant in a major commercial arbitration. We used the link to set up a screen in our office showing a live rolling transcript of the evidence. This link, coupled with the Access database, gave us two advantages.

As witnesses gave evidence it was necessary to search the database back at our offices to provide information for counsel to use in cross-examination. The link offered an on-screen chat facility, allowing the solicitor in court to request searches and get results without leaving the hearing room and while continuing to monitor the evidence. In cross-examination, witnesses found information being put to them (often within minutes of the issue being raised) which would normally have taken hours, if not days, to collate. The link also made it possible for one solicitor to be in court. This cut the client's expenses and maximised resources. The office screen was monitored while other lawyers in the team worked on other matters. When the solicitor at the hearing required help, the office computer rang like a telephone. These computer tools not only enhanced the effectiveness of our conduct of the case, but they also saved significant costs for the client.