Ontario aims to reduce courthouse visits by harnessing technology

Province investing in technology such as CaseLines, Justice Services Online, jury pre-screening tool

Ontario aims to reduce courthouse visits by harnessing technology

Ontario is investing in technology for its courts to deliver more services online and to conduct more remote proceedings.

The province intends for these technological investments to reduce the need for in-person courthouse visits and to make accessing the justice system safer, easier, faster, more responsive and more affordable amid the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

“Throughout the COVID-19 emergency and recovery, we have worked with our partners to move Ontario’s justice system forward by decades in a matter of months through game-changing modernization initiatives,” said Attorney General Doug Downey in a news release.

These technological investments and innovations include the following:

  • the expansion of the Justice Services Online platform, which allows parties and their counsel to electronically file over 400 kinds of civil and family court documents
  • CaseLines, a cloud-based document sharing and e-hearing platform through which parties and their counsel can share filed court documents of any size and file format before and during the hearing, and which is presently being piloted for certain civil matters in Toronto
  • the court case lookup online tool, which makes it easier for individuals to search for information on cases
  • the modernization of the Provincial Offences Act, through enabling people to remotely dispute traffic tickets and other provincial offences via audio or video, where available
  • the online jury pre-screening and check-in tool, which will enable potential jurors to avoid spending more time in the courthouse prior to jury selection
  • the Zoom platform’s audio conference and videoconference functions, which are utilized for certain remote proceedings before the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice, such as through virtual criminal case management courts

Other planned initiatives include the digitization of the provincial criminal justice system and the adoption of electronic filing for probate court documents, which will potentially speed up the processing for certain estate applications and which will reduce the necessity for in-house courthouse visits and the time and expenses needed for filing documents via regular mail.

“Building a more accessible, responsive and resilient justice system is another example of how the province is harnessing technology and innovation to deliver a government that works better for the people of Ontario,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, treasury board president, in the news release.

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