What is an eHearing?
An eHearing is the alternative to traditional, and costly, paper-based hearings. The major difference between the two is that documents are submitted and presented electronically in an electronic court book controlled by a central operator, while also allowing remote participation in real-time. High-definition screens are placed around the courtroom, so everyone including the judge, witness, counsel and clients have the same document in front of them at all times.
As a result, eHearings negate the need for paper documents in preparation and throughout the course of a hearing, leading to massive reductions in both cost and duration of a hearing.
An essential part of the process is working closely with the parties to provide guidance as to the preparation of documents by providing protocols based on years of experience. Epiq is the most experienced Australian provider of eHearings, offering Electronic Hearing Services consisting of two parts: Electronic Evidence Presentation and the Online Review Book.
Electronic Evidence Presentation
An eHearing Consultant will coordinate proceedings, controlling the presentation of documents and ensuring the flow of the hearing is uninterrupted. Paginated hard copies in tabulated folders are replaced by the presentation of documents on high-definition monitors located at the bench, bar tables and witness box.
When referring to a document, counsel will read out the Document ID, which will then be brought up by the consultant. Documents can be brought up side-by-side, zoomed in or out or have specific sections enlarged.
The major benefits surrounding an eHearing are the savings in both time and cost, as documents presentation is 30% faster than in a paper-based hearing.
Online Review Book
The Online Review Book is a proven replacement for paper-based hearing preparation, allowing practitioners to prepare with the security, efficiency and flexibility of modern technology. The Online Review Book is delivered as a secure web service accessible from any location, including the hearing room, offices, chambers, home and any other location where an internet connection is available.
During the hearing, every time a document is referred to, it automatically becomes an exhibit and is coded that way in the Online Review Book. This means that there is no manual production of exhibit lists, and users can easily search the exhibits however they like – whether that is by day on which they were tendered, which witness they were tendered through or simply by a term or word used.
Additionally, a fully hyperlinked transcript is provided which links documents referenced in the transcript to those specific documents, as well as to a list detailing each time that document is referred to – either in the transcript or in a document filed in the proceeding, such as a witness statement.
Fast and secure access to documents. Electronic court books provide compelling advantages over the paper equivalents. The court book documents are always available, securely stored and backed up and fully searchable.
More efficient work processes. Document administration is a pain point during any paper-based trial and detracts from the more valuable work of your legal team. An electronic court book reduces paper handling, including printing and photocopying, makes updates to the court book easier, and automates evidence management tasks.
Simple and effective evidence presentation. Evidence presentation is key to how well an eHearing runs. Poor legibility will undermine the process and force parties back to paper documents. Epiq delivers high-definition displays, meaning complex spreadsheets and poor quality documents remain legible even when zooming in on the detail.
Uninterrupted cross-examination. One of the greatest advantages of an electronic hearing – and something that may really alter the outcome of a case - is that the cross-examiner is able to question the witness faster, enabling them to build momentum more easily.
Hyperlinked transcript. A fully hyperlinked transcript makes the preparation of closing submissions at the end of the hearing much more efficient than for a paper trial. Reports to the client can also be prepared during hearing hours, rather than for the transcript to be published that evening.
Confidential and secure. Ensure that the provider offers each party access to their own private copy of the court book. This reduces risk and ensures each party can organise their documents with complete confidence that their notes and annotations will not be shared with the opposing side.
The power of eHearings lies in their efficiency, streamlining the overall trial process through the engagement of innovative technologies. This can transform the legal team’s work and have a profound influence on the outcome of the case.
Epiq is a leading global provider of integrated technology, consultative and administrative services for the legal profession. Epiq’s solutions streamline the administration of litigation, investigations, financial transactions, regulatory compliance and other critical business operations. Epiq’s subject-matter experts and technologies bring clarity to complexity, create efficiency through expertise and deliver confidence to high-performing clients around the world.
For more information about how Epiq can help your firm, visit epiqglobal.com/en-au/