Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria said allowing more tasks to be done online – from online filing for criminal matters and appeals to online bidding on auctions – would improve accessibility and better serve the public.

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“The E-bidding system will make the process more transparent and is expected to eliminate any syndicate that seeks to interfere… which would lead to artificial pricing,” he said at the Opening of the Legal Year 2017 in Putrajaya, on Friday (Jan 13).

He also highlighted that now the E-Court system was entering its second phase, its usefulness would be compounded by the fact it was accessible in more courthouses. 

The E-Court system introduced in 2009 was originally available in selected court houses in major cities – including in Kuala Lumpur, Shah Alam, Ipoh, Penang, Johor, and the Federal Court in Putrajaya – however the system would soon be available throughout the peninsular.

The project was being undertaken by Omesti Bhd, which completed the first phase of e-Courts in 2011, and secured the RM31.015mil contract for the second phase, to be completed by July 25.

The court infrastructure digitisation programme was rolled out in 2009 to eight primary court complex in the Peninsular – including in Kuala Lumpur, Shah Alam, Ipoh, Penang, Johor, and the Palace of Justice.

The new system would first be introduced in Ayer Keroh and Kuantan court, then the existing eight court complexes and then 12 more new court complexes.

Ariffin said there were also plans to broaden the scope of the specialised Cyber Courts to hear civil suits.

Set up on Sept 1 last year, the Cyber Courts specifically handle cyber crime cases including bank fraud, spying, online gambling and pornography.

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru, who also spoke at the conference, said the legal profession had numerous concerns in the coming year, chief among them being technology’s disruption to the legal service.

He highlighted recent trends like Artificial Intelligence and online services like self lawyering, by way of using contract templates instead of hiring a lawyer.

“These changes should be seen as the next notch of progress, not the last rites of the profession,” said Thiru, calling on lawyers to leverage on technology to deliver more effective services.

He said the Bar had submitted a proposal to the Prime Minister’s Office through the minister in charge of law, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman that was meant as a road map of the legal profession.

This comes on the heels of Singapore’s Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon endorsing a five-year technology blueprint for the courts, with plans to set up a Judiciary IT Steering committee to review, revise and update the initiative.

The Singapore Academy of Law also presented its Legal Technology Vision outlining its aims of encouraging adoption legal tech among small- and medium-sized law firms and incubating a legal tech scene in Singapore.

Posted by Qishin Tariq

Qishin is a court reporter in Kuala Lumpur. He is currently attached to the Newsdesk of Malaysia’s leading English daily, The Star.

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