Ana is Project Manager at Panel and responsible for this system which has recently been awarded the European Prize “Crystal Scales of Justice”.
Within the technological collaboration between Panel Sistemas and RedAbogacía and the General Council of Spanish Lawyers, is the “Free Justice Electronic Case Files” project, recently awarded the Crystal Scales of Justice, an award which is given to the best innovative practices in the field of justice in Europe.
1. How did the project come about? The project began in the summer of 2006, when RedAbogacía proposed Panel boost public portal Free Justice (which until then acted as a mere information center with an application form), giving it the ability to obtain tax information from applicants in order to expedite the process in Bar Associations, recipients and managers of the requests received. With an eye to the future, a communications module was designed, in order to be responsible for communicating with different information providers, although initially it would works with the Tax Agency, making transparent to the management application the technical features and protocols of the suppliers.
2. What features has this module? The module provides with a sort of services for the customers to request information from different suppliers and this, once retrieved the information, sends it to be treated in a particular way by each of them. This module basically acts as a communication bus.
3. What are the advantages to RedAbogacía and its users?
- Reduce daily work of the staff of the Bar Associations, which with a couple of clicks, automatically collects all documentation of the Case File and makes it available to the Commission.
- Documentation is digitized and sent telematically, so it eliminates paper and saves the expense of sending printed.
- For its part, the Commission that is already connected has a tool that communicates with the Bar and from which it’s possbile to manage Case Files.
- The Bar Association receives notification of the grant or denial of the right by the Commission.
- Some Bar Associations report the resolution by BuroSMS (SMS certified with return receipt requested), much cheaper than the burofax or certified letters.
Electronic Case Files provides management security and transparency, minimises errors in administrative proceedings, reduces economic cost and reduces processing times by up to 40 days. Through this service, Advocacy further reinforces its role in “Electronic Administration”, consolidating its commitment to services for citizens provided through the Duty Lawyer Service by more than 42,000 lawyers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
4. Technically, how is the project developed? The project is developed in Java and consists of several interrelated applications:
- The public portal www.justiciagratuita.es. In this portal, managed by WordPress, it has been integrated a form developed in Java Ajax, jQuery and that allows applications to citizens.
- The Free Justice Case Files application. This application is accessible from the Private Portal RedAbogacía, and offers the possibility to make requests from both data collection form and through the Web Service, which interface enables to make requests from other Bar applications. As a result of each request, a file containing the information provided by each Public Institutions is generated, in PDF format and digitally signed by the Signature platform, which makes the documentary custody of the records generated.
- External Communications Module (MCE) application, which acts as a communications bus, able to communicate with the different Public Institutions and bring the information collected to the Free Justice Case Files application, hiding to this the particularities of each type of connection (WS signed ssl, ssl WS signed certificate, IFI files exchanged by secure channel …).
- This application also has an interface that allows management and monitoring to track made requests and information providers with which it communicates.
5. What organizations and institutions the application communicates with?
After the success of integration with the Tax Agency, new integrations with other Public Institutions were adressed, such as the Spanish National Social Security Institute and its General Treasury, the Directorate-General for Cadastre and the Spanish National Employment Institute (INEM), among others. For each of them we had to adapt our communications module to their particularities, with different types of access as Web Services signed with SSL and digital certificate, IFI file sharing, etc. In 2011 the Council and the Provincial Treasury of Guipuzcoa and Vizcaya begin to talk about how to obtain tax data for their taxpayers. In this case the solution offered by Panel was the design of a common Web Service for both administrations, with the sharing of the data to be exchanged and implementing libraries for both the client side and the server side, which made transparent the complexity of communications, especially the web Service signature. In the past two years, with technological changes implemented in the AEAT expanding its web services, new integrations have been added, including tax address information and data collection from IAE.
6. What is the Electronic Case Files usage? 524,487 citizens in 2013 took advantage of the advantages of this technological tool, which represents a increase of 41.12% over the previous year. In 2012, they were 371,673 people using this service, while in 2011 they were 250,115 applicants for legal aid.
7. What institutions are expected to be integrated in the near future? Now we are immersed in the integration with the Hacienda Foral of Alava, following the pattern set for the other regional Basque Haciendas, and we will start with the tests soon, with the aim of putting it into production early next year.
8. What has it meant winning the “The Crystal Scales of Justice” award? The Crystal Scales of Justice Award has been an important support and recognition to the work of the spanish Advocacy and confirms that it remains at the forefront of European technology because, for the first time, a Spanish project gets this award against a centralized judicial database from the Ministry of Justice of Estonia, a family expedited procedure from Court of family Affairs in Berlin and a blog about European courts from the Court of Appeal of Amsterdam. The Free Justice Case Files project is, as you can see, a living project, with constant updates and upgrades, which aims to provide Bar Associations with an electronic case file of help for free justice as completed as possible with the most complete information of the applicant.