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European Court of Human Rights improves document management with OpenText eDOCS

Sophie Curtis | April 24, 2013
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is using a document management system from OpenText to handle applications and disseminate case law more efficiently.

"We are constantly being audited, and we come up smelling of roses because we put in solutions that are excellent value for money, and that work and that are efficient as well," said Hunter.

Public documents are made available through a public knowledge base. To ensure the long term preservation of the documents that ECHR produces and handles, documentation is also created in PDF format for long term digital preservation, ensuring the documents can be accessed and read for years to come.

OpenText eDOCS also offers an enterprise-wide search capability. The new system, HUDOC, offers users many new features, including the ability to drill down easily to the judgments they are looking for via search refiners. The search capability also enables visitors to the public website to find the right document quickly.

"We put systems in place where we can publish the metadata and the documents over into the Sharepoint search engine. That immediately gets indexed and is made available for journalists, academia, lawyers," said Hunter.

"We had a case against Ireland to do with women's right to have an abortion. We announced to the world we were going to publish the case on a Friday at 11, and within one minute the Irish Times website had published our decision, and five minutes later it was on the BBC."

As a result of the implementation, ECHR staff can now be confident that they have sight of all related documentation when they access a case. One particular benefit has been the ease with which correspondence can be created and stored.

Hunter said that, before the document management system was put in, employees would have to search for a physical case file, look up the name and address of the person, copy and paste the body of an old letter into a Word file and add in the correct details. There were no style sheets, and it could take up to 15 minutes just to write a letter.

ECHR now has over 2,000 model letters that deal with all the different legal processes of the court, and when someone writes a letter they simply have to enter the application number and the letter is automatically generated with the details already inputted.

The court is now looking to harness mobile and social media. Within HUDOC, users can create their own specific RSS feeds and publish links to Twitter, and ECHR is about to release a new Internet site based on responsive design, so that people who can't afford a computer can still get a good experience via a smartphone.

"Enterprise content management for me is just a must for any big organisation, and what I love about it is it's dead easy to manage, it's not a big heavy solution," said Hunter.

"Our whole karma on software development is we are very user-conscious, in that we don't want to have to support it and get loads of questions saying I don't understand, so we try to put in solutions that are easy to use."


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