Family law experts from Sheffield’s Taylor&Emmet LLP are playing a key role in revolutionising the way documents are delivered to the region’s courts, saving valuable time and paper.
Partner, Lucy Rodgers and her assistant, Rebecca Kelly, have pioneered the implementation of e-bundles, standardising the process of submitting evidence to South Yorkshire’s judiciary.
Taylor&Emmet is one of only two firms of solicitors involved in a working group charged with streamlining the process of enabling electronic court bundles to be used routinely in private family law matters. The firm’s IT director, Nigel Hoar, researched a suitable off the shelf solution and testing began with court staff late last year.
Lucy said: “Court bundles can run to hundreds of pages and it quickly became apparent during the first lockdown that generating the usual paper copies was impossible when we were all working from home. We were told repeatedly by court staff there were problems accepting e-bundles via email, which was a great source of frustration, and after discussing the issue with a couple of judges, it was clear something needed to change.”
Meetings were held over a number of months to identify barriers to the adoption of e-bundles and find workable solutions. Following the success of trials, Lucy helped to draft a new Local Practice Direction that has been issued by the Designated Family Judge for South Yorkshire. So far, no problems have arisen and everyone is following the e-bundle process.
Lucy added: “I’ve been very conscious whilst developing e-bundling that I am not only representing Taylor&Emmet, but also the entire family law profession locally and it was crucial to find a system that suited everyone. We worked to satisfy the courts’ issues around data security and the feedback so far has been very positive, particularly relating to ease of access.”
E-bundling is now used in all of South Yorkshire’s family courts. Instead of solicitors having to manually collate paper documents, dedicated software paginates the bundle automatically and generates a PDF. A secure link is then emailed to all relevant parties. This is contributing significantly to Taylor&Emmet’s goal of reducing paper consumption by 50% by November.