HOTdocs helps boost access to justice

April 1st, 2017
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By Janeske Botes

Legal Aid South Africa (Legal Aid SA) has recently rolled out HOTdocs, an automated document assembly software, at its offices nationwide, becoming the first legal aid provider in Africa to utilise such software for this purpose. This software allows the organisation to develop templates for client paperwork, initially for divorce, guardianship and eviction matters. With these templates developed, a form is completed with client information and is then automatically pulled through to other documents needed for the specific matter. This has eliminated manual completion of this paperwork and ensures that all documents fulfil the necessary legal criteria.

The software was launched at the beginning of February and legal practitioners are already noting its time-saving benefits. Comments from civil practitioners around the country include –

  • ‘HOTdocs is a great innovation. It makes it so easy to create pleadings’;
  • ‘I am amazed at how efficiently HOTdocs allows us to draft documents’;
  • ‘This is great. No more typing the same information over and over again’; and
  • ‘User friendly, even where there are glitches, we can figure it out’.

Legal Aid SA’s Chief Legal Executive, Patrick Hundermark, spearheaded the acquisition and development of HOTdocs for the organisation. He said: ‘We are excited to integrate HOTdocs into our daily work processes in order to better serve our clients. I am convinced that this software will have a visible impact on our efficiency and performance. With such a great need for legal aid services in South Africa, we are modelling a sustainable way forward that can be replicated throughout the continent and elsewhere.’

HOTdocs will be made available for further applications in the coming months. Mr Hundermark is confident that the introduction of this software will enable Legal Aid SA to further fulfil its constitutional mandate and ensure that access to justice is made a reality for a significant number of people.

Janeske Botes, Media Content Development Specialist, Legal Aid South Africa

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2017 (April) DR 8.

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