Escaping the relational database paradigm:
Case management in the High Court of Australia


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The High Court's new case management system has been operational since the beginning of 1998. The system has already assisted workflow and improved management of cases within the Registry. It has also greatly simplified the generation of sophisticated correspondence, which has increased the amount of information regularly supplied to parties explaining the status of cases and the procedures that have to be followed.

The system contains data, migrated from the old case management system, for cases filed in the Court as early as 1980. The cases database has been developed to allow three types of case record: full (for cases active since the new case management system became operational), partial (with a restricted set of possible events, for cases whose details were stored in the old case management system), and minimal (for cases for which the Court has no on-line information). These minimal case records could be used to store limited information on every case filed in the Court since its establishment in 1903 for which there is not already information stored in a full or partial case record. In this way, the new case management system could encompass the Court's entire past.

Of course, the system has also been designed with regard to the Court's future. The decision to develop the new system using Notes was significantly motivated by a belief that Notes will be available, and will continue to be improved, for many years to come, and that people skilled in the maintenance and improvement of Notes applications will continue to be widespread. Notes has rich functionality and, to the extent possible in today's rapidly changing world, provides a "future-proof" environment within which to operate a powerful and complex case management system.

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Last modified:  23 March 1998