29 Jun 2020 | 10.32 am
Courtsdesk Picked For UK Government Scheme
£70k funding for Enda Leahy’s courts report business
29 Jun 2020 | 10.32 am
Dublin-based legaltech company Courtsdesk has been chosen for a UK government innovation fund trying to make public interest journalism more financially sustainable.
The company’s project, to build a national data feed of information from across the criminal courts of England and Wales for news outlets, was selected and grant funded by the ‘Future of News Pilot Fund’ (FNF) and was showcased last week in London.
Following its selection by the fund, the company has reached a data-sharing agreement with HM Courts and Tribunals Service to facilitate a pilot of the service.
Courtsdesk’s work on creating a digital news feed of legal data was one of 20 projects selected out of almost 200 applicants for funding by the FNF Fund, a £2m innovation grant fund. The Irish venture was one of four recipients picked for the highest grant funding available of £70,000.
Courtsdesk was founded in 2013 by former Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday journalist and editor Enda Leahy (pictured), and software engineer Alan Larkin. The business provides a portal to easily access court case material from all of the courts, which is integrated with company data and other information.
Courtsdesk’s clients include most national newspapers and the biggest law firms. According to its most recent account filings, the business booked a loss of €420,000 in 2017, bringing accumulated losses to c.€790,000.
The 2017 balance sheet for Courtsdesk shows that the company has largely been funded with convertible loan notes worth c.€600,000. Enterprise Ireland has also invested €155,000.
The UK funding for Courtsdesk will go towards building a service that would supply listings and outcomes of all criminal court cases in the Magistrates’ Court of England and Wales to news outlets, totalling some 1.5 million prosecutions per year.
In recent weeks, the two largest regional newspaper groups in the UK, Newsquest and Reach PLC, have signed up to trial the platform when it goes live later this year. Talks on collaboration with other media outlets including the BBC and UK national newspapers are also underway.
“Our platform will help news organisations radically improve the amount and the usefulness of information available to them from the courts,” said Enda Leahy. “It will also help improve the commercial sustainability of court reporting, a vital type of journalism which has seen precious little technological innovation for decades.”