Lawyers scared of computers

Fear of own incompetence kills trees

A Crown Court judge has blasted a lawyer's excuse for printing huge bundles of documents rather than delivering them on disc.

The telling tale arrives via The Mirror's crime correspondent Jon Clements, who reports that at Wood Green Crown Court on Monday, Judge Francis Sheridan inquired as to why a pile of documents for a jury couldn't be delivered digitally. The paper version was said to be several inches thick.

The CPS counsel told him: "We can't put that amount of personal data on a disc in case we lose it and break data protection law."

The reasoning annoyed Judge Sheridan, who said he had thousands of legal documents on his computer and had never been prosecuted under the Data Protection Act.

"I've never heard anything quite so daft - it's too silly for words. Find counsel that won't lose the disc - there you are - problem solved," he added.

Fear of information is seemingly endemic in the legal system. El Reg has lost count of the number of times court officials have refused to release even the most basic information about hearings to us as we attempt to report the courts. The reason invariably given for witholding computerised details such as when a trial starts is "data protection".

We would also venture that the reason many legal bureaucrats like paper - and are thus prone to wrongly cite the Data Protection Act - is that it keeps them and their friends in work. Court houses swarm with clerks, assistants and secretaries, whose jobs appear to be mostly concerned with the manual labour of shifting paper files. ®

Sponsored: 5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup