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November 5, 1999
Law in the time of multimediaLitigants in the future might be able to resolve many disputes from their homes over the Internet rather than go to the courts, former additional solicitor general V R Reddy said today.
With the fascinating possibilities of using information technology one can expect to see a radical change in the practice of law and the administration of justice, Reddy said while addressing a session on 'The future of the lawyer' during the 43rd Congress of the International Association of Lawyers being held in New Delhi.
Reddy said the prospect of litigation outside a courtroom, dispensing with live witnesses, judges and lawyers in appropriate attire and other paraphernalia that is so familiar may horrify many, particularly the senior members of judiciary and legal profession.
But as Justice Michael Kirby has observed referring to the experience of high court of Australia, use of video links does not lead to any diminution in the effective use of judicial and lawyer time, he said.
On the contrary, hearings by video link tend to be briefer since the living presence of human beings somehow breathes into all concerned prolixity and oratorical flourishes that disembodied electronic form appears to control and minimise.
While the legal profession and courts in some countries are rapidly moving into the Electronic Age, Reddy said, the effect of technological advances in the field of law is not quite as rapid in the developing countries.
The degree of change would necessarily depend upon many factors such as the size and structure of legal profession, the nature of judicial process and court practices followed, access to technology and suitability of modern techniques to serve the needs of end users of legal services.
''It might be apt in this context to refer to our experience in India, in putting to use these technological aides in the area of legal services and administration of justice.''
Reddy recalled a prediction that if Internet keeps growing at its present pace, practically every person on the planet will have a Net address in the next 10 years.
The online databanks available are helping enormously seekers of information from every profession and from all walks of life.
In technologically advanced countries, Reddy said, sourcing information with regard to law from one's own jurisdiction or from other jurisdiction has become much easier with tremendous saving of time and energy.
While these are some of the changes in functioning of law offices and lawyers, courtroom procedures can also be expected to undergo drastic changes with the use of modern technology.
The Internet, besides being a tool for the practitioners of law to access information or to interact with clients, is increasingly becoming the medium for dispute resolution through courts.
The transformation of legal service into information service and easy access on the information superhighway will help enormously in promoting legal literacy and ensure recognition of the law's role as supportive, not obstructive, Reddy said.
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