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State Law Office to go digital

NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 9 – The government is set to begin computerising its records at the State Law Office by the end of this financial year.

This follows a directive issued by President Mwai Kibaki during the Jamhuri Day celebrations to have the State Law Office, Ministry of Lands, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Information and Communication systems automated by 2011.

Senior Deputy Solicitor General Muthoni Kimani said on Tuesday that the move would bring efficiency and easier management of case files currently at the Attorney General’s office.

“We are gearing ourselves for actually going paperless and we have put down part of our targets. We plan to have e-registries at the end of this financial year for civil case, advocates’ complaints and criminal prosecutions,” Ms Kimani said.

With the landing of undersea fibre optic cables, the government has been making a conscious effort towards digitising government documents and records for easier access.

Ms Kimani exuded confidence the Judiciary would soon digitise court records allowing future court documents to be saved in digital form.

“Kenya’s documentation system is firmly moving to the electronic era and we need to prepare to ensure the security and integrity of the data especially for legal purposes,” Ms Kimani said adding the Judiciary had a big agenda of going digital in terms of case management.

She said digitisation would help the office cut down the high cost of storage of files and registers.

“We have files that should not be within our registry, so we have a lot of unnecessary documentation which is taking up our space, costing the government a lot of money in rent as we occupy what I would think is prime property in Nairobi.”

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The intended automation, which includes financial systems and land records is expected to cut down corruption by making procurement processes more transparent and accountable.  The government is also set to introduce electronic settlement of claims and payments to vendors by end of 2010.

Ms Kimani was speaking during the launch of a report by auditing and consulting firm KPMG dubbed Managing Electronic Data for Litigation and Regulatory Readiness.

Research by KPMG Forensic involving 200 global law firms found that many legal departments have significant concerns about handling data especially for litigation.

Commenting on the results, the Head of forensic services at KPMG Zahir Sheikh highlighted difficulties in the management of data that could be simplified if it was digitised.

“Electronic data can be manipulated to benefit legal teams in a way that is not possible in the paper world,” Mr Sheikh said.

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