And with emails come not only the risk of morning sickness but of viruses as well. My machine plays gymnastics with Sophos as well as Norton Anti Virus and Firewalls and more besides. I keep getting emails telling me that another bug is going to wipe my hard disc as soon as it has mailed itself to everyone in my Outlook Express address book. Since I've had one dose of the virus, I now pre-read my emails before downloading them into my machine. It is a useful tip I can share with you. Ask your service provider to let you visit your email box via a password and only download those emails you truly want to receive. Anna and Beatrice never get downloaded in this way.
Next come the 419 scams. I get about one a week of these. The 419 is the relevant criminal code of Nigeria. The email will be from a purported senior army officer who has been asked by politicians to help get £50m out of the country. I am frequently chosen as a "reliable source" to help set up bank accounts in the High Street in Biggleswade so that the money can be dumped. I will get £5m. But first, could I send £5000 for a local advance fee transfer tax? Apparently this scam is actually working.
Having said all that, the IT world for the lawyer in the construction disputes business is, I confess, a wonderful place, once you finally reach it. I have one CD-ROM, which has every official law report on it. That is: every volume of the law reports going back 140 years is immediately searchable. The same goes for all the Weekly Law Reports, and the All England Law Reports. Another disc has 90 years of law reports covering arbitration cases. I can search for a name and will get it every relevant document in a fraction of a second. The online services give the lawyer access to hundreds, nay thousands of volumes of legal commentaries. Cases decided in the High Court are reported that very same day on my screen, sometimes in full judgment form. The lawyer can find, in seconds, every act of parliament, even a statutory instrument. It was only a few years ago that I was obliged to travel to Lincoln's Inn law library and search through tons of paper to hopefully stumble on a helpful snippet of information; those days are over.
It was only a few years ago that I was obliged to travel to Lincoln’s Inn law library and search through tons of paper to stumble on a helpful snippet
The frustration, though, is quite bewilderingly contradictory. I fume when I have to wait for my machine to dial up on a website. If it takes 30 seconds, I whinge! Broadband hasn't arrived in Biggleswade, so I complain to BT about my slow internet service. In today's world we all expect lightning reactions.
I get upset with the High Court in England because some vandal dismantled its law reporting website some months ago. If it is a cost saving of the Lord Chancellor, he deserves three boos. The Technology and Construction Court law reporting site has all but disappeared. Shame!
The IT game for construction is still in its early days. But I listened recently to the team at Pickavance Consultancy demonstrating the use of software to explain extensions of time claims for prolongation disruption. It is fantastic stuff; I didn't understand one word of it, of course, nor am I clever enough to use it, but you might be.
Tony Bingham is a barrister and arbitrator specialising in construction. You can write to him at 3 Paper Buildings, Temple, London EC4 7EY, or email him on firstname.lastname@example.org.