Report No. 188
Commercial Division - are high-tech and follow on-line systems in other countries
In this Chapter, we shall refer to high-tech systems and on-line filing procedures, as are available in various countries - Singapore, US, UK, Northern Ireland, etc. We shall refer in Chapter VIII to certain proposals placed before us by the National Informatics, India (NIC), which has all along been installing computer and information systems in the superior and subordinate Courts in India for well over a decade.
Singapore's judicial system marked a milestone in July 1995 with the opening of Technology Court I, one of the first Courts in the world to have an integrated computer, multimedia and video-conferencing system to facilitate the conduct of Court proceedings. Five years later, in the year 2000, the Technology Court II came into being. It is an improved version of Tech Court I and is housed in Court No. 3 of the Supreme Court of Singapore and cost about $ 2 million. It had additional features such as 'Video-marker-system' and 'flat-screen LCD panels' instead of 21 inch CRT monitors.
Sing Tel Aeradio, the leading systems integrator in Singapore provides the audio-visual equipment and project management for the new technology Court. All the cameras, microphones, visualisers, projection screens and video-players are 'remote-controllable' using a colour touchscreen panel. The Court officer is able to control the audio and lighting level in the Court room, adjust the cameras and visualisers, preview the images before projection, and activate the playback recording as well as video-conferencing systems. The control panel also allows pre-sets to be programmed and saved, hence reducing set-up time in a trial continuing over several days. Court hearings can also be filmed for records.
Like its predecessor, Tech Court II has a video-conferencing system which allows witnesses outside Singapore to testify in a court case. This greatly reduces the hassles of flying them in for the hearings. There is also a separate witness-room in Tech Court 2 for vulnerable witnesses such as children and rape-victims to give evidence 'away' from the Court room. "This saves these witnesses from any emotional trauma they may otherwise suffer from,- having to face the accused in open court."
Another enhanced feature of Tech Court 2 is the video-marker system, which allows the Judge, witness and examining counsel to annotate, each in a different colour, over any image displayed on the screen. Instead of having to mark on all the copies, the witness just needs to mark on the screen for all to see. The markings captured on the screen can then be printed for distribution or recorded for future reference. Singapore wants to develop a 'paperless' litigation system and to achieve a more efficient way of presenting cases in Court.