The origins of Quantum | Looking back at the Ancillary Relief Scheme with Nicola Van Lennep
9th July 2021
'Think of…. Dial up modems. Internet infancy. No Google. It was around 1995 when Nicholas Mostyn warned his programming team (moi) that he was putting his first draft of a Form E in the post. Naturally on a three-and-a-half-inch floppy disk!'
NICOLA VAN LENNEP
Then: Software Developer and busy mother!
now: almost retired developer, hobby upholsterer and voluntary Raspberry Pi Code Club organiser
Think of… Dial up modems. Internet infancy. No Google. It was around 1995 when Nicholas Mostyn warned his programming team (moi) that he was putting his ﬁrst draft of a Form E in the post. Naturally on a three-and-a-half-inch ﬂoppy disk!
“What might this Form E be replacing?” I asked. A large brown parcel containing more than a hundred anonymised aﬃdavits of means arrived. I soon realised the signiﬁcance of what I was asked to do. These beautifully crafted reams held everything the court needed to know about the decoupling of a marriage. Yet suspended in amongst the anger at a neighbour cutting down a tree, you would glimpse the matrimonial home valuation, and a bit further down, a diatribe on the unnecessary costs of re- decorating the dining room was peppered with mortgage costs.
Programmers must understand the mindset of their users and it was not going to be easy for them to transition from free text to the constraints of a factual, unemotional, 21-page form. Lawyers are wordsmiths and rarely mathematicians. You could argue that something as serious as Brexit was allowed one transitional year, yet this seismic Family Law shift would take a four-year pilot scheme to roll out. Quantum needed to be sympathetic to the loquacious, employ faultless, eﬀortless arithmetic, and deliver an impeccably authentic form to the courts. We must have cracked it because Quantum Hop became Skip then Jump and 25 years later has ﬁnally leapt to the Cloud, remaining the family lawyer’s faithful friend.