The Ontario Bar Association’s new president, David Sterns, says he’ll be pushing for more digitizing of the courts. The good news is he may have a sympathetic ear from current Attorney General of Ontario Yasir Naqvi.
As Law Times has reported, the provincial government recently expanded a pilot project that digitized e-filing in Small Claims Court but fell short of introducing such a system for other courts.
A spokeswoman for Naqvi says, “Taking a gradual and responsible approach, we would like to find ways to introduce more technological solutions into the justice system.
“The Attorney General is very keen on looking into how we introduce technology in a way that it becomes part of the court system to make it more user-friendly. People who still want to go to a counter and use paper need to still have that access, but we want to see how we can modernize the system,” the spokeswoman told Law Times.
“One of the questions the Attorney General has asked for example, is can we take e-filing in civil claims and make it easier for parties to file their claims using electronic technology.”
The devil, of course, will be in the details. As Silicon Valley venture capitalist and author Guy Kawasaki sagely says, “Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.”
It will be curious to see what goodies are offered as Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and her Liberal colleagues prepare for the provincial election scheduled for 2018. For Naqvi, still fresh in his role, big changes around digitizing the courts may come in small increments. Sterns, for one, says introducing e-filing — or even completely paperless courts — has not been a priority.
“It’s an embarrassment and it costs money for practising lawyers and causes great challenges to the judiciary and of course all that comes back to the client who ends up paying the cost,” Sterns says.
Lawyers across the province, and Canadians they serve, will benefit from these investments.