Berezovsky v Abramovich hearings is the world’s first MagnumCloud technology trial

Posted by Vicki Owen on Sunday, December 11th, 2011 at 12:30 am.

New British courtroom technology is being used for the first time in the Abramovich and Berezovsky hearing over the Russian oligarchs’ billions at the High Court in London.

New British courtroom technology is being used for the first time in the Abramovich and Berezovsky hearing over the Russian oligarchs’ billions at the High Court in London.

MagnumCloud, the world’s first ever cloud-based trial management system, allows the judge, lawyers and participants in the case to have secure access to transcripts of evidence as well as to all related documents, including all research and case law, at any time from any computer in the world.

The technology has been designed and developed for Opus 2 International by Graham Smith who in the 1990s created LiveNote, which became a world standard for transcript and evidence management technology. LiveNote was sold to Thomson Reuters in 2006 in a multi-million pound deal.

Now MagnumCloud offers participants the ability to access all case materials and then collaborate from anywhere in the world, inside or outside the courtroom. Further, the technology creates one seamless record of all the evidence from the moment it is presented in court with instant hyperlinks to all documents as well as case law and any online research. 

Even if members of legal teams are not logged on to the hearing or the central repository of the 12,000 documents in the Abramovich-Berezovsky case, a lawyer can keep tabs on what is happening via his Blackberry or iPad and instantly provide assistanc orcomments to other members of the legal team either inside or outside the courtroom.

At the centre of the patent-pending MagnumCloud technology – which hopes to become a major export earner for Britain as well as enhancing the technical excellence of London as a global litigation centre – is its ability securely to store and update all trial data in the ‘cloud’.

This allows all parties in a trial to securely access the unfolding trial evidence plus the complete files of documents from any computer without having to replicate their own individual files from one computer to another.

In Court 26 in the brand new Rolls Building, dedicated to business disputes,all  documents are displayed on monitors arrayed in front of the judge, witness, legal teams and litigants.

Remote attendees – lawyers and authorised third parties from both sides – can instantly access the live transcript as well as each and every document that is referred to. Each document is then automatically hyperlinked to the very point in the transcript that it is being referred.

As well as viewing and being able to mark up transcripts and documents in real time, the MagnumCloud provides a synchronized audio recording of the evidence, enabling the user to get a better understanding of emphasis and meaning and clarify ambiguities in the transcript.

Lawyers at the Berezobvsky-Abramaovich hearing calculate that so far in this one trial alone the technology has saved a minimum of five million sheets of paper.

The feedback from participants in the trial is overwhelmingly positive.  All parties are using the technology – which includes some of the largest and most tech savvy law firms in the world, including Addleshaw Goddard, Skadden Arps, Freshfields, Hogan Lovells and Macfarlanes.

However, the major driving force behind MagnumCloud is the Judge – Dame Elizabeth Gloster – who right at the outset wanted to achieve a paperless trial – eliminating the mass of hard copy documents and files and making it exponentially easier for the evidence and documents to be accessed and managed. 

Lucinda Orr, from Skadden Arps who are acting for Abramovich says MagnumCloud ‘is the future for document heavy litigation’.  She also stressed the ‘green’ benefit, stating that ‘it has saved literally hundreds of thousands of pages of printing’.

The major benefit for her though, ‘has to be been the massive increase in efficiency and convenience that comes from accessing the evidence and documents securely from anywhere, anytime – and the ability to collaborate with other team members’.

Mark Hastings, partner at Addleshaw Goddard LLP, who leads the team acting for Berezovsky,says that his barristers are particularly fervent supporters and users of Magnum.  ‘It’s actually automating so much of the work that the lawyers would normally spend hours to achieve. There is no question that it makes lengthy trials more manageable, but its simplicity makes Magnum a highly useful tool on all cases – irrespective of size.

Lord Grabiner, who has watched the development of MagnumCloud from ‘close quarters’ says that the technology has the potential to transform the way all complex trials and hearings are conducted – including public inquiries – resulting in speedier and more efficient hearings worldwide! 

He says: ‘I am not a tech savvy lawyer – like most of the older generation of barristers!  However, MagnumCloud is so easy to use, yet embraces all facets of the materials that lawyers and judges have to work with in a case – whether this be researching Case Law or information on the Web about your client or opponent, as well as all the documents and the subsequent evidence given in the case!  The benefits of this technology are simply limitless!’

Following its roll-out at the oligarchs’ hearing, MagnumCloud is being marketed to the legal industry globally and its US launch will coincide with the New York LegalTech Show at the end of January 2012.

Opus 2 International is placing a particular emphasis on the vast American market where MagnumCloud’s ability to handle and manage streaming video is especially suited to a legal system in which the videoing of depositions and court hearings is the norm.

Graham Smith said: ‘We have been delighted by the reception given to MagnumCloud by Judges, barristers and leading law firms. The technology revolutionises the management of highly complex cases and, by doing so, enables the legal process to work more speedily and efficiently.

‘Ours is the first system anywhere in the world to manage and simultaneously cross-reference documents as well as permit authorised and secure live access to evidence by storing all relevant documents in the cloud rather than in fixed servers.

‘We believe it will add value to London as a global litigation centre and will provide real opportunity in export markets.’

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