COVID-19 crisis has underscored the need for legal industry to embrace technology and work remotely. Law firms and lawyers have been adopting new technologies. The pandemic, which has been affecting nearly every aspect of business and society, has not spared the legal profession either.
Although this pandemic is unique to an extent, the impact of past epidemics too had a similar effect on the legal industry. It has been over two months since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown in view of the pandemic. The courthouses across the country have been forced to adopt new technologies at every stage of proceedings.
In normal days, courts are mostly overcrowded with people including lawyers, litigants and other supporting staff. The court norms and procedures have been undergoing drastic changes during the lockdown. Judges are being given more powers to device ways for speedy trials.
The impact of the lockdown is felt by all stakeholders. The legal culture, structural, economic, delivery patterns, and self-regulation are all affected.
The pandemic has opened the doors for gradual transformation of various platforms for all stakeholders. It will change the legal culture in India with or without the support from establishment. Automation will change the way of how the industry functions.
Some areas of civil litigation have already undergone transformation. Even before the outbreak, attorneys occasionally used to carry out remote declarations through telephones and delivered documents in large boxes across the country.
Now the situation is different. Offices and courts are closed, resources are not available for printing and shipping of documents, and attorneys have already begun to use video conferencing for depositions and hearings.
Videoconferencing has seen rapid implementation in hearings. The establishment of e-courts is increasing and e-filing has also become more accessible for the attorneys. It also reduces the petition’s paper size and allows only mandatory or critical documents to be annexed in any case.
Clients who did not attend the proceedings before the outbreak, can now witness virtual proceedings . Many courts have successfully installed technologies to conduct hearings and examine witnesses.
New technologies or virtual reality further bridges the gap between the courts and the witnesses. If a video conference diminishes the expressions and reactions of a witness, other technologies can read, translate, and accurately imitate witnesses’ facial expressions in a virtual reality environment.
To sum up, COVID-19 will change the future of litigations.
Edited by Javed Gaihlot
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)