@Court toolkit promotes e-filing

@Court Inc. home page

Start-up company @Court Inc. officially made its debut this week and announced a free software toolkit designed to help nearly 4,000 federal and county courts move to e-filing.

The @Court Connectivity Toolkit is based on Legal Extensible Markup Language (Legal XML), which is a new, open standard designed for legal documents such as electronic filings, contracts and court proceedings. XML enables programmers to design ways of describing information, usually for storage, transmission or processing by a program.

"The toolkit allows the courts to be up and e-filing in 60 to 90 days," said John Healy, president and founder of @Court. It is also the first working e-filing application based on Legal XML, he added.

Courts can use the toolkit, which hooks up to a court's case management system, to accept attorneys' e-filings. Attorneys electronically transmit documents in PDFs.

Nationwide courts accept about 370 million filings per year, so e-filing presents "a huge market opportunity," said Kevin Nickels, chief executive officer of @Court. "What's been missing is a standard way of doing this." The toolkit, Nickels said, accelerates courts' acceptance of e-filings and support for Legal XML.

The toolkit is laying the groundwork for a fee-based e-filing service that @Court expects to launch in June. The Web-based service will cost $15 per filing and will work with any court system that has a Legal XML interface. Today it costs about $125 to process a paper filing, Nickels said.

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