In a recent post on The Artificial Lawyer, Jon McNerney, CEO at CaseLines, reports on a partnership his company has established with the Court of Justice for the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), as well as initiatives the company has undertaken with Kenya’s court of appeal and South Africa’s civil courts.

CaseLines offers a cloud-based platform for courts, local government and law firms that is designed to facilitate the management of evidence. McNerney says that the application of this digital technology in Africa “has now put African courts at the forefront of the legal technology drive, with legal technology as advanced as anywhere in the world.”

The dramatic effect of the application of the CaseLines system in African legal contexts primarily comes down to a significant reduction in the need for paper, McNerney says. In the UK alone, he points out, “the amount of paper … used by the courts [prior to the implementation of Crown Court Digital Case System] would reach the height of the London Shard every four days if stacked from the ground up.”

“Paper costs” include not only the price of paper stock itself, but fees associated with its physical storage, filing and retrieval, moving documents from one place to another, and other related expenditures. McNerney estimates that the transition from a paper to a digital platform has saved the 21 member states of COMESA’s Court of Justice thousands of dollars a month.

“Digital justice systems are not only aiding improvements in the rule of law,” McNerney writes, “but also assisting countries in meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 16, which is to provide access to justice for all and ‘build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels’.”

The CaseLines experience in Africa is a reminder of the overwhelming range of benefits that digital technology offers the legal system  – in this case facilitating the cause of justice in relatively poor countries around the planet.

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