16 July 2018
DPA: the fast track to an efficient, digital legal profession
The legal profession is currently at a turning point. The legal world had been standing still for a long time in the area of process innovation and digitisation. In 2011, the Flemish Bar Association (Orde van Vlaamse Balies, OVB) decided that things had to change. A few years later, the Digital Platform for Attorneys (Digitaal Platform voor de Advocatuur, DPA) became a reality.
This digital communications hub is now already being used by hundreds of lawyers for submitting pleadings and documents.
The legal profession distanced itself from ever-increasing digitisation for a long time. This led in the past to a technological and competitive deficit in comparison with other market segments. It also became more and more difficult to defend manual paperwork processes to clients.
The start of digitisation
In 2011, the OVB conceived a plan to eliminate the IT deficit within the legal profession. They undertook to develop a digital platform aimed at realising fully electronic litigation processes.
On 26 March 2014, the General Meeting of the OVB resolved to accommodate the OVB’s IT services within a separate structure in which both the Associations and the OVB were represented. Six months later, Diplad was established.
How Diplad is shaping digitisation
Diplad has a leading role to play in digitising the profession of lawyer. It is a reliable partner for the OVB and judiciary and also the lawyer’s ultimate IT partner. Diplad targets increased efficiency in a lawyer’s day-to-day practice.
Diplad aims to guide the legal profession - and, by extension, the judiciary - towards the digital future. To this end, it has developed the Digital Platform for Attorneys (DPA). This is an indispensable tool for the lawyers of tomorrow who want to adapt their internal procedures and way of working to the changing digital world.
DPA makes life easier for lawyers
DPA forms the central hub through which all communication between lawyers and other players in the legal system flows. The platform provides the lawyer with secure access to various online services. This enables him or her to retrieve, send, process and store data with greater speed and efficiency. He or she can also consult paid services, such as the National Register (Rijksregister), the Central Registry for Seizures (Centraal Bestand Beslagberichten) and Graydon.
The digital platform for all Belgian lawyers
DPA is a joint project between the Flemish Bar Association and the Association of French and German-speaking Bars (Ordre des barreaux francophones et germanophone). It therefore constitutes a shared platform for all lawyers registered with a Belgian bar.
In due course, DPA will be linked to the most commonly used lawyer software so that lawyers can consult the applications directly using their own software.
The initial active applications on the platform are:
A royal decree is expected in the near future, which will specify that all future online submissions will have to be made via DPA-deposit. This measure aims to guarantee a higher level of cyber security, partly through stringent lawyer authentication.
Since June 2017, lawyers have been able to submit digital pleadings, send documents and communicate with all Belgian courts, colleagues and third parties via DPA-deposit. The system offers a host of advantages:
- Security: the only way to register is with a lawyer’s ID card. This is authenticated using the Register of Lawyers (advocatenregister).
- Privacy: communication between lawyers, courts and clients is strictly confidential.
-sending documents to Belgian courts, colleagues and clients (by email);
-uploading various documents with different recipients at the same time;
-automatically sending electronic documents to linked courts with e-Deposit. DPA also makes all the arrangements for sending via fax, letter or registered mail to courts that are not linked.
- Full integration with lawyer software: it must be possible for lawyers to send documents using their own software package. Various software suppliers are preparing integration.
- Digital dossier: all documents submitted will be kept for 2 years (or longer if desired) in a central document database, the DPA-box.
New to DPA-deposit? Visit https://secure.dp-a.be/deposit and register using your lawyer’s ID card.
Ready for the digital future?
DPA relieves lawyers of complex technical issues. This leaves them able to focus on their core business and to strengthen their competitive position in the legal market. The functionality of the digital platform will be expanded further over the coming years. In future, DPA will provide even greater convenience and time savings.
This text was written in collaboration with Johan Van Driessche, former Director of the Flemish Bar Association and Director of Diplad.
ING is keen to encourage and assist lawyers with their digital challenges.