The Royal Courts (RCJ) of Justice’s £12.5m eWorking system has been axed, after months of poor implementation and low user uptake.
eWorking was designed to improve the flow of information from court users across the RCJ by enabling them to submit files electronically. Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) had been working with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to provide an electronic working system to the RCJ since 2008.
But in September last year Computer Weekly revealed that only 11 documents had been electronically submitted to the RCJ in the second quarter of 2011 - with critics claiming the £12.5m project has "virtually collapsed".
The RCJ recently moved to the £300m Rolls Building, a state-of-the-art law court complex designed to ensure London remains the world centre of financial law.
Tim Pollen, senior operational manager at the Rolls Building, said: “Initial good progress was made however over the last 12-18 months significant problems with the system began to emerge. The seriousness of those problems has now become apparent, as has the likely cost of remediation.
“HMCTS and MoJ ICT remain fully committed to delivering, at the earliest opportunity, an electronic filing, document management and listing system to support the jurisdictions of the Rolls Building. Planning for that is now underway and a new project will be initiated through the standard government procurement and Cabinet Office approvals processes.
An HMCTS spokesman said it had terminated the contract with the current supplier and was planning for a new project to be initiated through the standard government procurement and approvals processes.
Tony Guise, of commercial litigation firm Guise Solicitors, said: “We obviously really regret that it’s no longer working because we went to some length to promote among our members, and initially it seemed to me to be ground breaking stuff.
“Unfortunately the project just suffered over engineering. The new system needs to be a web based portal rather than email. Lessons must be learned from this, particularly in listening to the user. I’d be troubled if the new project was just another consultant led exercise.”
Guise said it was vital the RCJ had a fit-for-purpose electronic filing system, to ensure that London remains a globally competitive centre for commercial litigation. “This was something recommended at the end of the last century, I’m surprised we’ve reached this point and it’s something they are still faffing around with.”