Courtroom on a Cloud: Thomson Reuters acquires cloud-based court document platform

August 28, 2020

2 min read

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What's going on here?

On 13 August 2020, Thomson Reuters announced its acquisition of CaseLines, a cloud-based platform which enables the digital sharing of court documents and evidence, following its success in facilitating virtual hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What does this mean?

CaseLines creates and stores digital court files, enabling courts, judges and legal practitioners to access them remotely whenever and wherever they need to. Digitalisation of court processes makes them more efficient and accessible, and also eliminates the need for paper documents. Therefore, the platform is advantageous for both the justice system and the environment. It has over 40,000 users and has been used in more than 400,000 court cases.

CaseLines has proven successful during the COVID-19 outbreak, both in the UK and overseas. Speaking of its use in virtual Crown Court and Court of Appeal hearings, Lord Justice Fulford said: “CaseLines has significantly transformed our criminal justice system in the UK. Paper documents have been replaced by the CaseLines digital system and judges are universally positive about the efficiencies this has created. Without CaseLines, it is very difficult to see how we would have been able to function during the coronavirus difficulties”. The platform has capitalised on its pandemic-induced goodwill to accelerate its expansion into several overseas jurisdictions including North America and the United Arab Emirates.

No financial details of the deal were disclosed.

What's the big picture effect?

The product of a 2008 merger between two of the world’s largest information companies (the Thomson Corporation and Reuters Group PLC), Thomson Reuters has long specialised in news and media. In recent years, it has shifted its focus towards legal tech. The firm acquired legal outsourcing company Pangea3 in 2010 and legal software provider HighQ in 2019 (to see our articles on those deals, click here and here). It is now expanding its legal tech offering into the courtroom itself with its acquisition of CaseLines. This carries considerable benefits for both companies.

The coronavirus-induced shift towards remote working presents a lucrative opportunity for businesses that are willing to invest in digital working solutions. M&A firm Cavendish Corporate Finance, which advised on the deal, estimates that the global digital evidence market will be worth $8.4bn by 2024, and the ongoing rise in virtual hearings could propel this growth even faster. The acquisition will help both companies to accelerate their growth in a fast-growing and highly profitable market. CaseLines is a particularly attractive acquisition target due to its recent success and expansion around the world. However, with an estimated annual revenue of $7.7m, it remains a drop in the ocean compared to Thomson Reuters, which turned over $5.5bn in 2018. CaseLines will therefore hope to harness Thomson Reuters’ size and reach to help it meet growing demand and continue to expand internationally.

Thomson Reuters has the scale, the reach and the capital; CaseLines has the platform and the potential. Their alliance will allow the pair to capitalise on this emerging opportunity and bring the justice system into the digital age.

Report written by Isobel Deane

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