When the machine stops

We are all highly reliant on technology these days. Most litigation will involve three photocopiers; about three fax machines; at least half a dozen phones (including mobiles) and five computers.

No scientific survey has been conducted, so these numbers may be wrong, but the point stands. We use a lot of technology, for very good reasons.

Always bear in mind that this technology is prone to failure. Normally at the worst possible time.

This is something you have to plan for, which is mostly common-sense. If your computer has vital files and emails on it, make sure it’s backed up – and you know how to get at your files if it crashes. If you have a pay as you go mobile, try to avoid running out of minutes the day before the tribunal. Make sure you have paper for your printer if you’re going to need to print out lots of statements.

Most importantly, try not to put yourself in a position where a technical failure will cause a crisis. This basically means trying to get things done in good time. If your fax breaks while you’re trying to send the ET1 you have a problem. But if it happens a week before the deadline, it’s a small problem. If it happens with an hour left to spare, it’s a very serious one. Similarly, trying to repair a photocopier with epoxy glue is rarely fun, but it’s particularly unpleasant the day before a hearing when you have half a dozen bundles to produce.

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