Which government department still insists on everything being on paper?

I find it interesting that, with all the advances in the world and with a government that is, at least at one level, very enthusiastic about a paperless society, we still have one government department that insists on the use of paper.

I speak, as you may have guessed, of our court system which still seems to love paper.

Now I don’t mind that because I store paper, but it is interesting that paper appears to be at the heart of our legal system.

I thought of this recently because last year a friend of mine decided to take his savings out of the bank (where it was earning about 0.5% interest) and buy a 100 year old terraced house. The place was a mess, so in traditional fashion it was cleaned up, sorted out, and then advertised as being available to let.

An agency was used, and a couple were installed as tenants in the house.

All went well until they suddenly stopped paying rent. Words were exchanged, but the tenants merely came up with more and more half-baked excuses, which quickly turned to accusations.

And so the legal case started – and while sympathising with my friend over the problems he was having I was also fascinated by the process he had to go through.

The original application to start a case was very simple, and that was done online. All well and good.

But then the court came back and suggested the mediation service would be suitable; my pal agreed, but the tenants didn’t. And that is where the paper use started.

Everything relevant to the court case had to be gathered together and sent to the court and to the two tenants. So that meant three copies of each document.

Now some of the exchanges between the tenant and landlord were by text message, so he was obliged to sit for several days with his mobile phone typing up text messages and then printing them, one on each piece of paper, and putting them in order so the court would be able to see how things had progressed.

I wondered if this was necessary, but during the course of the arguments about not paying the rent the tenants had not only put forward a spurious argument; they had also suggested that the landlord, my pal, had behaved badly. Rachmanism was suggested, which if you were to meet the guy you would know is just plain daft. He’s the mildest and most gentle guy you could imagine.

So he had to put in all the texts to show that he had not only refuted these arguments from the start but had also done so in a civilised manner.

In the end, when the original lease and the exchange of texts and emails was all considered, the whole thing ended up as about 50 sheets of paper.

Every single one of those could have been submitted as a digital document for the court to read, but no, each one had to be on paper, with a copy supplied to the court, a copy to each of the tenants, and the originals kept for the hearing in court.

Naturally my friend was then concerned that something might happen to these originals, so he brought them to me, and Admiral Document Storage stored them for him. We kept them nice and safe, and we’re waiting for the case to be heard.

I find it interesting that at a time when you can do most things online, the court system doesn’t allow the depositing of papers digitally, with all parties being able to read them on the screen.

But then, it brings me in work, so I don’t think I should complain too loudly.

Actually, now I come to think of it, I don’t think I should complain at all.

You can find out more about our document storage facility on our website at www.archive-document-storage.co.uk