Closings of courthouses should be a wake-up call to adopt 21st century technology
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to daily norms in Canada. Lawyers are not exempt, and many courts in Canada have either severely reduced their case hearing schedule, or paused activity altogether. This will have a huge impact on day to day Canadians, whose lives may be waiting for decisions in family custody disputes, criminal hearings, or lawsuit seeking compensation, etc.
Canadian court systems may face a difficult time in attempting remote work. Despite the rise of the personal computer decades ago, it remains impossible in many Canadian court systems to file many court documents online, hold video hearings.
The current closure of courts reminds us that technology has the potential to revolutionize the process of serving documents, and placing them before the court. If proper investments are made, basic technology can allow future court matters to continue remotely, and save ordinary Canadians significant time, and therefore, legal fees.
To name only two potential innovations, Canadian courts should consider the following:
- Allowing the majority of civil Chambers hearings (not involving live witnesses) to go forward via either telephone conference, or video conference. Massive business deals are now routinely negotiated via video, and there seems little reason why in person attendance should always be required for all court hearing;
- Allowing documents to be filed online, instead of requiring paper copies in physical form to be sent to the courthouse.
The Canadian legal system is not a mere luxury that Canadians can suspend for months at a time. The issue of judicial adoption of twenty-first century technology is more timely than ever, and has the potential to benefit all who seek justice.
For more information, please contact:
James D. Steele