A Strategy for the Supply of Judicial and Court Services in Jersey

Michael Wilkins and Kate Jeggo, St Helier, Jersey.
(2nd Edition, Approved in Principle by JLIB, November 2000)


Part 1
1.1 - Purpose of this Document
1.2 - The Aim
1.3 - The Approach
1.4 - Programmes

Part 2
2.1 - Programme I - Exploitation of Technology
2.2 - Programme 2 - Civil Justice
2.3 - Programme 3 - Criminal Justice
2.4 - Programme 4 - Alternative Dispute Resolution and Dispute Avoidance

2.4.1 - Dispute resolution
2.4.2 - Dispute avoidance

2.5 - Programme 5 - Community-Based and Self-Help

2.5.1 - Community-Based Help
2.5.2 - Self-Help

2.6 - Programme 6 - Miscellaneous

2.6.1 - Promulgation of Legislation
2.6.2 - Accommodation - Royal Court - Magistrate’s Court - HV Benest Room - States Prison

2.6.3 - Judicial Training
2.6.4 - Court Rules and Practice Directions
2.6.5 - PRIDE
2.6.6 - Human Rights Legislation
2.6.7 - Portuguese Community
2.6.8 - Data Protection and Privacy; Security and Confidentiality - Data Protection and Privacy - Security and Confidentiality

2.6.9 - Resource Procurement and Income - Resource Procurement - Income

2.6.10 - Performance, Value for Money and Co-ordination -Performance -Value for Money -Co-ordination

Part 3
3.1 - The Vision
3.2 - Recommendations

Part I (back to top)

1.1 - Purpose of this Document (back to top)

This paper provides a strategy for the provision of Judicial and Court services in Jersey between the years 2000 and 2010. The Jersey Legal Information Board (JLIB) was established in 1999 and has already developed a strategy, principally but not exclusively through the exploitation of technology, for the supply and dissemination of legal information. However, there is presently no co-ordinating strategy for the provision of Judicial and Court services in the Island. This paper is intended to fill that gap: its objectives will directly connect with the work of JLIB whose primary business objectives relate to: the strengthening of Jersey’s position as a leading financial centre; developing access to justice; and providing an integrated legal system.

1.2 - The Aim (back to top)

It is necessary to embrace an aim. This paper shares the objective of JLIB namely, to see the Island’s Judicial and Court services being recognised as the global best for a small jurisdiction. This high-level aim can be translated into the vision set out towards the end of this paper, but its attainment will be dependant upon progressive cultural and organisational change with reference to:

  • Availability of legal information
  • Increased public knowledge
  • Provision of community-based help
  • Improved access to types and levels of legal advice
  • Effective protection of rights
  • Enhanced understanding of responsibilities
  • Promotion of dispute avoidance
  • Effective resolution of disputes
  • Ease of access to justice
  • Effective case management
  • Efficient court infrastructures and accommodation
  • Co-ordination between affected agencies
  • Promotion of cost-effective solutions
  • Efficient collection of fees
  • Adequacy of resourcing
  • Effective enforcement of court orders
  • Provision of ongoing judicial education

1.3 - The Approach (back to top)

Certain approaches need to be employed in support of the strategy. These include:-

  • More comprehensive strategic planning
  • Development of strategic partnerships
  • Participation by stakeholders
  • Empowerment of judges as case-managers
  • Ensuring value for money and accountability
  • Creating a co-ordinated infrastructure
  • Extension of on-line access to legal information
  • Increased interaction with, and participation of, stakeholders (citizens, court users, legal professionals and staff)

1.4 - Programmes (back to top)

It is suggested that the aims of the strategy will best be achieved by reference to the progression of various phased, interrelated programmes. The key programmes would cover the areas of:

  • Exploitation of Technology
  • Civil Justice
  • Criminal Justice
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution and Dispute Avoidance
  • Community-Based and Self-Help
  • Miscellaneous

A collection of apparently unrelated but actually homogeneous issues can conveniently be brought together within the Miscellaneous programme.

Part 2 (back to top)

The remainder of this paper discusses the broad content of each of the programmes.

2.1 - Programme I - Exploitation of Technology (back to top)

Utilisation of the emerging technologies is not an end in itself - it is merely a means to an end; nonetheless no modernisation or future development of the Island’s Judicial and Court Services can be considered without regard to the availability and capability of information technology. The necessary extent and pace of investment in the new technologies is a topic already extensively covered by JLIB [1]. JLIB’s own approach is, rightly, both phased and project-based. Inter-connected projects already under progression by JLIB include:-

  • Provision of primary legal information (court judgments, practice directions and principal legislation), on-line, for legal professionals [2]
  • Subsequent development of a fully revised, indexed, and historically accessible database, on-line, of all legislation [3]
  • Development and implementation of wider legal information systems for on-line public access [4]
  • Provision of an open legal network to link with the legal profession
  • Provision of video-conferencing facilities for the Island’s judges and courts
  • Development of an information map of the legal system and its agencies and users [5]
  • Development of electronic case filing [6] and management
  • Development of mediation and dispute resolution
  • Development of public consultation [7]
  • Analysing the need for a preventative legal health programme
  • Piloting and development of digital sound recording facilities [8]
  • Provision of the Jersey Law Reports on-line

JLIB is accordingly tasked (the Bailiff is its chairman) with conceiving and implementing change. Hence, its spirit is necessarily forward looking and duly exploitative of the emerging technologies. However, its approach remains mindful of how Jersey’s legal processes have evolved empirically in the light of the Island’s unique historical, constitutional and social status.

2.2 - Programme 2 - Civil Justice (back to top)

The Island’s civil justice system has served it well. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Royal Court’s special competence in commercial and cross-border litigation is one of the pillars upon which Jersey’s reputation as a leading financial centre has been established [9]. The present civil justice model may be said to have 5 principal elements [10]. These are:-

  • A lower court [11], (Petty Debts Court) which currently deals with claims of up to £2,500 [12]
  • A higher court [13], (Royal Court) which currently deals with claims over £2,500
  • An interlocutory judge [14] (Master of the Royal Court)
  • An administrative and clerical infrastructure (Judicial and Petty Debts Court Greffes)
  • An enforcement arm (Viscount’s Department)

While there is already reasonable co-ordination between these elements, they are all essentially free-standing and reactive in the sense that, to date, they have been largely responsive to external factors, such as the progression of proceedings by Counsel.

However, at the present time the Island’s legal infrastructure offers:

  • No developed system of case management [15]
  • No developed system for maintaining and extracting case data
  • No fast-track Small Claims’ Tribunal [16]
  • No pre-trial conference facility
  • No formal procedure for the giving of directions on the progression of actions
  • No rigidly enforced time-tables in the progression of actions
  • No dispute avoidance facility
  • No dispute resolution or mediation system
  • No electronic service of documentation
  • No electronic filing service
  • No electronic extract service
  • Only a rudimentary electronic information service [17]

These deficiencies represent very real challenges for the Island. However, engagement with such challenges also presents a substantial opportunity. For example: the implementation of a comprehensive system of case management (here using the term in its wider sense to refer to the orderly and assisted progression of litigation to trial) would speed the passage of litigation; it would also, in association with the use of the pre-trial conference and a formal directions’ procedure, act as a screening process likely to have the effect of taking out of the court system at a relatively early stage actions (e.g.) ultimately destined for settlement or non-progression [18]. The introduction of a fast-track Small Claims Tribunal [19], the pre-trial conference facility, and dispute avoidance and resolution procedures would likewise act to provide for the resolution of disputes otherwise than by a full hearing at the higher court level: the courts, and court infrastructure should indeed become a highly efficient and mechanised forum of last resort within an integrated legal system.

Various of these issues could conveniently be progressed by JLIB in association with the Master of the Royal Court. [20]

JLIB, through its existing projects, or as by-products of them, is of course presently addressing case management in the narrower sense of the term (here referring to the installation of electronic systems facilitating managed case progression) such that the provision of electronic filing [21], extraction and information services is, as indicated, already under seminal development in the Judicial Greffe. [22]

2.3 - Programme 3 - Criminal Justice (back to top)

The Island’s criminal justice system also serves it well. Again, it is supported at Greffe and Viscount’s level. Taking this latter as read, the present basic model may be said to have two further principal elements [23]. These are:

  • A court of summary jurisdiction [24] (Magistrate’s Court) which currently deals with offences involving the possible imposition of a fine of up to £2,000 or imprisonment for up to six months. [25]
  • A higher court [26] (Royal Court) which deals with cases beyond the jurisdictional limit of the Magistrate’s Court; with cases on indictment; and as an appeal court from the Magistrate’s Court.

In recent years, the criminal justice model has been refined such that (e.g.) in relatively serious cases Magistrate Court prosecutions are effectively brought by a public prosecutor; and the (stipendiary) Magistrate no longer acts in all such cases in the manner of a Continental juge d’instruction (or judge-inquisitor). Fast-track (‘paper’) committal to the Royal Court is also now available.

While reasonable co-ordination between the agencies involved in delivering the Island’s system of criminal justice is likewise in evidence, the Island’s legal infrastructure offers at the present time:

  • No court diary system offering integration between the work of the Magistrate’s and Royal Courts and affected agencies. [27]
  • No integrated case-management (and data) system.
  • No video-conferencing facility for the making of bail applications.

2.4 - Programme 4 - Alternative Dispute Resolution and Dispute Avoidance (back to top)

2.4.1 - Dispute resolution (back to top)

Currently, Jersey has no alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, such as mediation and counselling, capable of resolving legal, commercial and practical issues arising in civil cases. Where such a mechanism is put in place its objective is the attainment of out-of-court settlement of disputes cheaply, speedily and amicably. Dispute resolution generally includes: mediation; provision of neutral evaluation; non-binding evaluation; and binding evaluation. Mediators tend to be court-appointed specialists though community-based mediators are also utilised. Jurisdictions having an established Small Claims’ Tribunal likewise tend to incorporate these facilities within their small claims’ procedure. Where alternative dispute resolution is employed, the mechanism is normally a compulsory part of the civil justice procedure so that (e.g.) a civil action cannot proceed to hearing in a higher court unless the dispute in question has been first subjected unsuccessfully to the process.

2.4.2 - Dispute avoidance (back to top)

It is necessary to distinguish between dispute resolution and avoidance, however. Problems carrying legal dimensions are encountered by us all, throughout our lives. But such problems need not always develop into legal disputes: a wider role of the civil justice system should be in helping people manage such problems in a way that will help to avoid litigious outcomes.

Indeed, though it might sound an ambitious endeavour, it can be forcibly argued that the legal system should strongly participate in the delivery of an educational programme leading to an increased awareness of legal rights and responsibilities so that citizens can be empowered by the law, rather than feel intimidated by it, as so many currently do: it is against such a backcloth that real progress in the avoidance and early resolution of disputes is likely to be achieved.

JLIB should be mindful of the above distinction and furnish appropriate facilities in the context of its intended (a) mediation and dispute resolution and (b) preventative legal health programmes and analysis.

2.5 - Programme 5 - Community-Based and Self-Help (back to top)

A key question must be asked on behalf of citizens confronting potential disputes: Is easy and affordable access to information and guidance at the correct level available? As said, the wider focus of the judicial system is that it should play its part in helping people to overcome problems before they become disputes. JLIB’s preventative legal health programme might therefore further consider:

2.5.1 - Community-Based Help (back to top)

At the present time in Jersey the principal community-based organ for the obtaining of advice on legal and associated issues (that is, other than by formal reference to a lawyer) is the Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB). Members of the legal profession run a Duty Lawyer scheme which provides legal advice to citizens who refer themselves to CAB. The Jersey CAB website [28] is also a good source of general legal and social information.

Consideration might also be given to the development of inter-agency partnerships of the type that has led to the piloting of an Information Point in court in Nottinghamshire: there, the court service and the local community legal service acted in concert to make provision for this facility. [29]

It should also be noted that as a result of the developing library communications’ networks there is potential for growth in the possible use of the Public Library as a delivery channel for community-based information. [30]

2.5.2 - Self-Help (back to top)

However, as JLIB recognises, there is a general need in the Island to develop and implement wider legal information systems for on-line public access [31]. Additionally, many Jersey law firms already have websites, some of which effectively provide basic legal information on-line. There is much scope for the development of such services so that packaged or customised legal products become available on-line: fixed priced packages for the making of wills or even the obtaining of divorces might in due course be offered in this way; in years to come the development of such services is likely to provide lawyers with a lucrative, if competitive, market. It might be objected that there is a danger here that citizens might mis-understand general or pre-packaged information available on-line. However, these concerns can surely be minimised by adequate signposting and notes of caution. [32]

In proceeding as above one must however be conscious that the information-poor and those who are not computer-literate might easily become marginalised. Not everyone has, or chooses to have, access to the Internet. JLIB should be mindful that for the foreseeable future some people will continue to be more comfortable with face-to-face and verbal communication: traditional CAB approaches and the provision of helplines and contact points (for example, in the Public Library, again, and the States Bookshop) would likewise assist here.

2.6 - Programme 6 - Miscellaneous (back to top)

Other issues which need to be addressed within a more co-ordinated approach to the provision of judicial and court services in Jersey include:

2.6.1 - Promulgation of Legislation (back to top)

At the present time, actual notification of the passage of new legislation in the Island is reliant upon a combination of formal, oral declaration by the Viscount and published notification in the Jersey Gazette (published within the Jersey Evening Post). However, the opportunity can now be taken by JLIB to provide more meaningful promulgation by recourse to on-line services: this would help to satisfy one of JLIB's own objectives: improved notification to citizens that new laws or provisions are now, or will soon be, in force and that their lives are about to be newly or differently regulated.

2.6.2 - Accommodation (back to top) - Royal Court (back to top)

The States Building [33] in St Helier will undergo substantial refurbishment between late 2000 and 2003. This work will include the re-fitting of the Royal Court and the back-up courts housed within the States Building. The refurbishment programme should include sufficient provision and fabric for:

  • The use of electronic court rooms [34]
  • The use of digital court recording systems
  • The making of interlocutory and ex-parte applications by video-link
  • The making of bail applications by video-link
  • The examination of witnesses by video-link [35]
  • The delivery of judgments by video-link - Magistrate’s Court (back to top)

A new Magistrate’s court complex is planned for construction in St. Helier. The Cap Gemini report [36] reflects disturbingly in relation to this that ‘The new Magistrate’s Court complex was designed before the days of the electronic courtroom concept and its design may not be ideal for implementing these facilities; it has been suggested that it may be already too late to change the design.’ The development of the new complex is however now subject to slippage as part of the measures currently being taken to curb inflation in the Island [37]. Urgent advantage should be taken of this delay by JLIB to ensure that any design omissions are indeed addressed.[38]

The Cap Gemini report postulates various ways in which new technology can assist the working of the Magistrate’s Court and while the content of that report does not fall to be reproduced here it does seem especially important to point out that it is in the Magistrate’s Court that a facility for the making of bail applications by video-link is likely to be of greatest utility and value.[39] - HV Benest Room (back to top)

The HV Benest Room in Morier House is a modern, good quality, well-appointed multi-purpose room. The room was conceived as having the capability of serving as a small-scale electronic court and is already equipped with a large-screen video-conferencing unit supplied by PictureTel. This room also serves as the Coroner’s Court and has already been successfully utilised by the Court of Appeal for the purpose of delivering reserved judgement in cases (on appeal from the Royal Court) remotely via the existing video-link. Especially in circumstances where it becomes necessary to lower expectations in relation to the delivery of a fully paperless court in Jersey, it would seem to be expedient to build upon the existing investment in the H V Benest Room - States Prison (back to top)

Obviously, if in due course bail applications are to be heard by video-link, the prison needs to be suitably adapted to accommodate such a facility.

2.6.3 - Judicial Training (back to top)

The Jersey Judicial Training Programme (JTP) was launched in 1999. The JTP has a full set of objectives but the delivery and development of the programme should take place having regard to the wider issues and approach set out in this paper. [40]

2.6.4 - Court Rules and Practice Directions (back to top)

The co-ordination of the content and issue of court rules, practice directions and circulars is a matter inevitably being developed by JLIB as part of that body’s aims to make legal information available on-line. Nonetheless, such documents need to be formulated and re-formulated likewise having regard to the wider issues discussed in this paper. Their content and issue also needs proactively to provide for the more efficient and effective delivery of judicial and court services in Jersey. At present this process is discrete and largely reactive. It is suggested that the role of the Master of the Royal Court might conveniently be extended to include responsibility for integrating such matters.

2.6.5 - PRIDE (back to top)

The delivery by the Judicial Greffe in the latter part of 2000 of the second phase [41] of the PRIDE (Public Registry Index and Document Enrolment) system, which provides for the delivery of a fully electronic Public (Land) Registry should be viewed by JLIB as the completion of a project within its purview. As the Cap Gemini report [42] rightly recommends, on-line access to the PRIDE system should be offered to the Jersey Archives Centre; the States Housing and Property Services Departments; and also to the Viscount’s Department [43] in order to advance the dissemination and sharing of registry information. The second phase of the PRIDE project involved the capturing of images by digital photography and the experience gained in this context may be of assistance to JLIB elsewhere [44]. Indeed, the telecommunications infrastructure, and its networking capabilities, established in the context of the delivery of the PRIDE system is likely to be of substantial value in relation to the necessary development of the other on-line information and communications systems referred to in this paper.

2.6.6 - Human Rights Legislation (back to top)

The Human Rights (Jersey) Law, 2000, will become effective in the Island by 2002. The purpose of this Law is formally to incorporate in the Island’s domestic law the European Convention on Human Rights. For present purposes the public hearing requirements of the Law are of principal interest. In the longer term, ‘virtual’ and digital technology and wider general access to the Internet should enable a wide variety of on-line hearings to become human rights’ compliant from the public hearing perspective. From the wider human rights’ standpoint, it will certainly be necessary for Convention jurisprudence to develop in tandem with technological advances.

2.6.7 - Portuguese Community [45] (back to top)

Formal consideration needs to be given by JLIB as to the extent that the sizeable minority population of Portuguese nationals in Jersey has special information and service (especially language) needs in the contexts under discussion.

2.6.8 - Data Protection and Privacy; Security and Confidentiality (back to top) - Data Protection and Privacy (back to top)

There is an obvious tension between the advancement of the information age and rights of personal privacy [46]. JLIB already recognises the need to manage this conflict: hence, the Data Protection Registrar is a member of JLIB; also, JLIB’s legal information website has a two-tier entry mechanism which protects against open access to sensitive information contained within some court judgments. - Security and Confidentiality (back to top)

On the question of the security and confidentiality of information, it might be objected (e.g.) by some agencies that some of the information held by them should not be disseminated (e.g.) to and across other agencies since to do so would give rise to possible breaches of security and could prejudice the integrity of data. This is a complex area but it is suggested that the integration of many processes between agencies could be safely achieved by reference to pre-defined rules and interfaces, as postulated in the Cap Gemini report. [47]

2.6.9 - Resource Procurement and Income (back to top) - Resource Procurement (back to top)

At the present time, JLIB has no official source of funding. It is principally reliant upon ad hoc funding by the States Central IT Fund (for IT development) and, from the strategic standpoint, by the Jersey Information Society Commission (JISC). However, means should now be found for JLIB to be specifically funded so that it can proceed with its necessary work within an established budgetary regime. [48] - Income (back to top)

It is suggested that more efficient collection of fees due for the provision of Judicial and Court services is required of various affected agencies [49]. It is acknowledged (e.g.) that omissions exist (e.g.) in the efficient collection of fees due when officers or judges of the Courts sit. James Lambert of the Judicial Greffe is however currently addressing whether judicial fees might be levied and collected more effectively, say, by recourse to integrated or ‘intelligent’ electronic systems and his report and recommendations should be made available to JLIB. [50]

2.6.10 - Performance, Value for Money and Co-ordination (back to top) - Performance (back to top)

It is necessary for the Court infrastructure to demonstrate that it provides high-quality services giving good value for money. This responsibility can best be discharged by the development of an integrated structure in which the citizen becomes recognised as a rightful user of those services. The Viscount’s Department has a long tradition of Performance Management supportive of the States strategic objectives [51]; the Judicial Greffe has a maturing one; both Departments offer service pledges and monitor performance against them. However, a mature regime of Strategic and Business planning should be developed and maintained across the entire judicial infrastructure. - Value for Money (back to top)

Both the States Treasury [52] and the States Audit Commission [53] rightly seek improving value for money and accountability in the management of the public purse. The promotion of a value for money culture is equally applicable in the case of the supply of judicial and court services [54]. One example of where better value for money might be achieved is in the creative use of court and judicial time [55]: the proposed jurisdictional changes mentioned with reference to Programmes 2 and 3, above, would relieve burdens unnecessarily borne by the Royal Court and its users. Further, there are already plans to take uncontentious divorces out of the Royal Court [56]; whether the passing of contracts for the purchase and sale of land should continue to take place before the Royal Court is at least arguable; the basis upon which preliminary and interlocutory applications are heard either before the Royal Court or its Master is in need of proper definition; and the suitability of the regular Parking Courts which take place at Magistrate’s Court level might also be questioned [57]. Ultimately, at least in the civil context, only where: there are disputed facts applied to uncertain law; cases require especially sensitive handling; or the Royal Court’s special competence in financial and offshore litigation needs to be called upon, should that court’s jurisdiction be automatically invoked [58]. (It might be objected that these outcomes would lead to an erosion of heritage - Islanders would be denied the traditional right to their ‘day in court’. In fact, there should be no loss: such modifications seek only to reroute those matters which, objectively speaking, do not fall to be dealt with at a disproportionately high level. All refinements must, in any event, be compatible with Human Rights obligations.) - Co-ordination (back to top)

Like JLIB, the Cap Gemini report emphasises how important it is for the constituent parts of the judicial and court infrastructure to operate in a co-ordinated way. Specifically: interfaces between different systems to allow information to pass electronically between them are required; work-flow systems need to be developed so as to form a backbone of integrated ‘end-to-end’ case handling; and related sections, departments and organisations must keep in touch both with the bigger picture and each other’s own developments. Generally - in spite of the progress already made by JLIB - much work remains to be done in this regard, as the Cap Gemini report demonstrates. It might however also be emphasised that the future requirement is likely to be for far more than an effective court system: services will need to be better and cheaper and truly responsive to users’ needs. Necessarily limited resources need to be applied more effectively across public departments and agencies and unnecessary duplication of effort and documentation avoided: effective business modelling needs to be adhered to and a fully integrated structure created.

The Law Society should be encouraged further to participate in the objective of achieving a co-ordinated legal infrastructure and service [59]. The Law Society already has representation on JLIB; lawyers are assisting JLIB in developing the wider legal information systems for on-line public access and the preventative legal health analysis; as said, they provide the Duty Lawyer scheme for CAB; the Law Society has been a working partner in the delivery of the PRIDE system; members of the Law Society attend meetings of LINK [60]; and of course legal practitioners provide the Island’s Legal Aid system [61].

JLIB should actively engage with these factors.

Part 3 (back to top)

3.1 - The Vision (back to top)

The vision of Jersey’s judicial and court services by 2010 is, accordingly, that of a unified system in which the courts are a forum of last resort supported by other techniques and services which ensure that the law is amenable to all. The elements of the vision are:

3.1.1 - A well-informed Island in which self, community and on-line help facilitate the avoidance and resolution of disputes, speedily and cheaply

3.1.2 - A partnership of citizens, community-based agencies, the legal profession and court services, such that disputes are resolved or (where necessary) adjudicated in the spirit of co-ordinated networking

3.1.3 - A fully integrated, accountable and flexible court infrastructure which provides measurable value for money and speedy and efficient services to citizens and users

3.1.4 - A fully developed electronic court interface in which technology facilitates: the dissemination and extraction of information; integrated end-to-end case handling and management; the circulation and presentation of authorities, exhibits and evidence; and the enforcement processes

3.1.5 - A world-class, and fully equipped, court system which continues to underpin Jersey’s standing as a leading financial centre

3.2 - Recommendations (back to top)

The following recommendations are accordingly made:

3.2.1 - This strategy, its aims and vision should be absorbed into JLIB’s strategy and addressed and delivered in conjunction with Cap Gemini’s own report, recommendations and Legal Information Model. [62]

3.2.2 - JLIB should assume responsibility for ensuring the delivery of the aims, aspirations and recommendations of this strategy.[63]

3.2.3 - JLIB should review the extent and priorities of its current projects having regard to the contents of this strategy.

3.2.4 - The central resourcing authorities [64] should make specific and adequate provision for the work of JLIB.

3.2.5 - JLIB should develop more extensively the consultative networks being established via (e.g.) its public consultation and wider legal information systems projects as well as by its networking initiative, LINK (Legal Information Network of Knowledge). All departments, agencies and organs affected by this strategy should participate actively in LINK. [65]

3.2.6 - Those public departments, agencies and organs constituting the Island’s present judicial infrastructure should demonstrate integrated adherence to the aspirations of this strategy, performance management and the adoption of core service standards.

3.2.7 - As a precursor to the availability of a comprehensive system of case management the Judges and Master of the Royal Court should in combination exercise more direct and pro-active control upon the course of civil litigation.

3.2.8 - JLIB should seek to accelerate the processes relating to the raising of the lower court jurisdictional limits mentioned in this paper.

3.2.9 - Succession planning and management development in the Judicial Greffe should be designed to support this strategy.

These are the issues, considerations and recommendations insofar as we can presently conceive them. Of course, the content and applicability of this paper - incorporating as it does a long term vision - must be the subject of constant monitoring and review.


Michael Wilkins and Kate Jeggo, St Helier, Jersey.
(2nd Edition, Approved in Principle by JLIB, November 2000)

Footnotes (back to top)

[1] Though, as said, JLIB’s own intentions are not limited to the use or exploitation of information technology. See its full strategy and projects at:

[2] Via JLIB’s website, as above.

[3] A contract for the capture of the Island’s raw legislative data was signed in August 2000.

[4] Hence, via the Internet. See also Co-ordination at

[5] Cap Gemini UK plc (Cap Gemini) - an arm of Ernst & Young - duly delivered a Legal Information Strategy Model for the Island in June, 2000, as to which see below.

[6] See Programme 2 at 2.2.

[7] This initiative has already collected in hard-copy a wealth of guidance notes and information handouts provided by public sector departments and organisations. The outcome of this exercise is likely to be valuable in relation to the need to co-ordinate the availability of legal information and thereby increase public knowledge.

[8] In association with the Department of Electronics, piloting will commence in the temporary courts at the former D’Hautrée school premises in late 2000.

[9] See the Review of Financial Regulations in the Crown Dependencies of 24th October 1998, a Report commissioned by the United Kingdom Home Secretary and prepared by Andrew Edwards (the Edwards’ Report).

[10] Examples of other important elements of the civil justice system - not directly within the ambit of this paper - include: the Court of Appeal, and the functions of the Registrar of the Family Division of the Royal Court.

[11] 9784 actions commenced in 1999; 4701 Acts issued.

[12] Due to be increased to £10,000 by Spring 2001 by the Petty Debts Court (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Jersey) Law, 2000.

[13] 904 actions commenced in 1999.

[14] 350 Acts issued in 1999.

[15] For example, at 30th June, 2000, out of 802 actions then on the Royal Court Pending List, 230 of them had been commenced before 1995.

[16] A possibility actually under consideration at policy level, however, at the present time.

[17] For example, the Judicial Greffe now publishes the Royal Court Friday Table weekly, on-line.

[18] Strict procedural time-tabling and non-adjournment after setting down (for hearing) might also be applied.

[19] Typical attendant mechanisms might include the lodging of claims by telephone, facsimile, and e-mail.

[20] It seems likely that video-conferencing facilities will become especially useful in a variety of interlocutory civil appointments, hearings and related ex parte applications; also in case management meetings. In the Island’s criminal justice system video systems are already utilised for the taking of evidence from child or vulnerable witnesses; but defendants in criminal cases might also be thus permitted to participate in preliminary hearings while remaining in prison. Compare that in England the now infamous Dr Harold Shipman was recently reported to have been permitted to have attended the inquest of an exhumed patient by video-link from prison. See also: Programme 3, at 2.3.

[21] Ultimately, though it is a question of phased delivery, on-line filing of pleadings and other materials will be possible remotely, via the proposed open legal network.

[22] The Legal Eyes system by Sellers Legal Services is currently under assessment there.

[23] Other important elements of the criminal justice system - not directly within the ambit of this paper - include: an initial quasi-judicial enquiry which takes place at Parish Hall level (‘Parish Hall Enquiry’); the Youth Court; and the Court of Appeal.

[24] 3947 cases dealt with in 1999; 226 cases remanded to the Royal Court.

[25] To be increased to £5,000 or 12 months in late 2000 by the Magistrate's Court (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment No.8) (Jersey) Law 2000.

[26] 129 cases dealt with in 1999.

[27] Though the Magistrate’s Court is currently developing its possibly extendable COURAS system, as to which see the Cap Gemini report, Paragraph 3.2.4.


[29] Also available in Singapore.

[30] Indeed, public resources and accommodation generally managed under the aegis of the Education Committee might in due course be similarly considered in this context.

[31] Such information might well be clustered around typical life-events as suggested by Professor Susskind, (as to whom, see footnote 62) and as actually already available, on-line, in Singapore. Best access might well be via a portal within JLIB’s existing (or soon to be forthcoming second-generation) website.

[32] The use of ‘intelligent’ checklists, helplines and contact points would be of further assistance here.

[33] As a member of JLIB the Greffier of the States will presumably have a double-interest in various of the contents of this paper in that consideration is apparently also being given to install more comprehensive electronic services in the States (Parliamentary) Chamber: reportedly, an official delegation from the States recently visited the new Parliamentary Assembly in Wales in this context. Further consideration of this requirement does not however fall within the ambit of this paper.

[34] This term is here used to denote a court room supported by a comprehensive electronic infrastructure: hence, agreed facts, history, relevant case law and statutes would all be accessible within such a court room, in electronic form. Presentation of evidence might also be made electronically and on-line. Further, computer technology can help to re-create events such as fires or accidents and enable them to be presented easily by virtual reality techniques. Ultimately, voice recognition software and digital recording systems will be used to provide instant recording and transcripts of evidence on screen (LiveNote has successfully provided this latter facility already, ad hoc, in a major fraud trial in Jersey).

[35] The receipt of evidence by video-link could conceivably reduce the demand for the transcription of evidence - especially where the record in question is retained on video-cassette (or on digital versatile disk). Equally, digital recording systems will assist the actual process of transcription. See also, however, footnote 48.

[36] Paragraph 5.2

[37] At the end of 1999 the Jersey IPR rate was 2.6% higher than in the United Kingdom - Inflation in Jersey by M. Parr, March, 2000.

[38] Compare further: Evaluation of Video Link Pilot Project at Manchester Crown Court published by HM Prison Service and The Court Service (U.K.), 2000.

[39] In the future, with the advent of virtual technology, the layout and configuration of (and even the necessity for) the physical court room, as traditionally understood, is in any event likely to be subject to challenge.

[40] For example, JTP’s project 22 relates to the provision of IT training for judges and Jurats: as the Cap Gemini report rightly points out (Paragraph 6.1.1), this project should be extended to ensure that such officers are provided with on-line and Internet access from their homes (and, as has now been done, also from the Jurats’ Room in the Royal Court).

[41] The first phase, being the provision of an electronic Index, was delivered in 1995.

[42] Paragraph 4.4.1

[43] The Department of Planning and Building Services might also be considered.

[44] Further, it may ultimately be feasible for property deeds actually to be passed by electronic means: the Judicial Greffe has plans to assess this possibility in terms of the third phase of PRIDE. See also Value for Money, at

[45] For the purposes of this paper, the Portuguese population in Jersey is estimated at 5% (of 85,000 persons)

[46] This is a further Human Rights consideration.

[47] Again, lawyers might object that the legal work-product is not susceptible to on-line transmission. But (e.g.) encryption tools are readily available and the practical solution is to provide for any anticipated on-line communication with clients within terms of engagement. See further 'Seismic Changes - the Internet Revolution' by Professor Susskind, The Times (Law), 31st October, 2000. See also footnote 62.

[48] It should not be overlooked that necessary compliance with the Human Rights legislation (such as the possible need for an increased number of transcripts such as to satisfy the public hearing requirements at appellate level) may well carry additional resource implications. Compare, however, footnote 35.

[49] Related points are also made in the Cap Gemini report.

[50] Though, strictly, the issue does not fall within the ambit of this paper, it might be added that Jurat Blampied is concurrently preparing a report for the Judicial Greffe and the Finance and Economics Committee on the question of revenue loss for the Public Registry in the case of share transfer property transactions (which do not necessarily attract stamp duty).

[51] For this reason, this paper does not specifically address the executive functions of the Viscount’s Department. However, it might be mentioned in passing that while the Department has its very effective Lazarus bespoke computerised accounting and enforcement system, this technology does not currently interface with systems in related agencies

[52] States of Jersey Treasury Strategy 2000-2004.

[53] States of Jersey Audit Commission Annual Report, 1999-2000.

[54] This is a budgetary imperative applicable even were disturbing inflationary pressures not in attendance.

[55] Including the non-productive time of attendant Court Greffiers.

[56] They will be heard before the Registrar of the Family Division.

[57] There are complex dynamics to be aligned here, but in the longer term it might even be possible for fines for (e.g.) minor statutory offences to be paid via electronic kiosk, as in Singapore.

[58] See further the comparative discussion on the resolution of disputes which concern: agreed facts and known law; agreed facts and uncertain law; and disputed facts and known law in sections 3.52 and 3.53 of civil.justice.2000, as to which see footnote 61.

[59] It might even provisionally consider whether, and if so, how, competency in IT skills might be certified as effectively incorporated within legal training.

[60] As to which see Recommendations at 3.2.5.

[61] This latter not being a topic dealt with in this paper, though it should perhaps be noted that there may be further Human Rights resource implications here.

[62] The paper civil.justice.2000 published by the Lord Chancellor’s Department in the UK also contains many valuable further insights. Indeed, the present paper draws heavily on civil.justice.2000 and on the views of Professor Richard Susskind, OBE, IT adviser to the Lord Chief Justice of England and to JLIB.

[63] If necessary, utilising the further services of Cap Gemini.

[64 ] That is, the Policy & Resources, Finance & Economics, and Human Resource Committees of the States.

[65] These might include, for example: the States Prison, the Prison Board of Visitors and the Jersey Consumer Council.

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