In my last post I talked about a case in which Justice Brown noted that the Ontario Court system “lacks modern administrative infrastructure including, for example, proper electronic case management and document filing technologies.”
This week a friend of mine directed me to this interesting link about the state of the internet which got me to thinking, just how technologically archaic is our legal system?
Although (dare I say) most lawyers communicate by e-mail, you can only serve court documents via e-mail on counsel (you can’t serve self-represented parties) and this requires counsel to send back an acceptance of service. The result is that most lawyers continue to fax court documents to opposing counsel as no acceptance is required. More printing, more paper, more time.
Similarly, the courts have yet to adopt a system where court documents can be filed via e-mail or uploaded via a secure website. The commercial internet is now 20 years old. Twenty years! It is now a common occurrence for the Registrar to remind everyone to turn their cell phones off before the Judge enters the courtroom, and for counsel to check their blackberries when re-scheduling a matter. Yet we still send clerks, process servers and articling students to the court house to sit in line for hours on end to issue our Statements of Claim and file our motion records, because there is no other alternative. Can’t we, as a profession, catch up with the times and find a better way?