Court Documents Join E-Commerce Parade

CourtLink, a provider of real-time online access to court documents in the U.S. federal system, and JusticeLink, an Internet provider of electronic document filing to courts, announced today that they intend to merge and create a fee-based Internet gateway to U.S. court systems.

The market for purchasing and filing court documents online is potentially huge. In a litigious country like the United States, online access to court documents appeals to a whole spectrum of people and industries.

CourtLink said it has well over 2,000 clients that are made up of corporations, government agencies, insurance companies, real estate companies, media outlets and others.

JusticeLink counts more than 550 law firms and 5,000 individuals as clients. Both companies are backed by Internet holding company Internet Capital Group (Nasdaq: ICGE), which led a $21 million (US$) round of financing for JusticeLink in November 1999 and a $15 million round for CourtLink in December 1999.

Leading the Way in Nascent Market

The two companies said that the merger would ease the flow of paper to an overburdened system and create what could be a multi-billion dollar e-commerce market in the process.

CourtLink and JusticeLink are not the only organizations that provide Internet access to the nation’s courts, but they claim to be collectively the most comprehensive. The U.S. government, for example, offers the PACER system for access to federal court records, but critics claim its performance is spotty at best and relies on the cooperation of individual courts.

Access Already to 150 Million Records

The Bellevue, Washington-based CourtLink says it provides Internet access to over 150 million records in 700 federal, state and local courts, including U.S. District Courts, U.S. Bankruptcy Courts and Circuit Courts of Appeal.

JusticeLink, based in Dallas, Texas, says it allows attorneys and other interested parties to file and access documents electronically to the 16 courts it currently has under contract. The company said it would implement its first statewide service in Colorado this spring and intends to expand later.

“JusticeLink and CourtLink offer complementary services to courts, law firms and other individuals who share a common goal in improving processes for the filing and access of court documents and information,” said Henry Givray, who will serve as the CEO of the combined company.

The new company will have regional sales offices in Dallas, San Francisco, Denver, Colorado and Washington D.C., and will split operations between Bellevue and Dallas. It will employ over 165 people.

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