Technologies are finally infiltrating the Quebec judiciary. These technologies are mean to improve the judicial system and public access to justice.
New mobile service for court listings
On September 3, 2014, Quebec’s Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée launched an online service allowing lawyers to access court listings on their mobile devices (cellphones, tablets). These listings include schedules of upcoming hearings in civil, criminal and penal matters of the Superior and Quebec Court of Justice. Youth court cases are excluded.
The court listings on civil and criminal matters for all courthouses will be available online. In criminal cases, listings can currently be found for courthouses in Longueuil, Montreal, Quebec City, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières. The service is available on the website of the Quebec courts or directly at the following address http://roles.tribunaux.qc.ca.
This is in addition to the wireless Internet services already available in courthouses in Montreal and Quebec City since June 2014. The same Wi-Fi services will be implemented in other regions gradually to March 31, 2015. However, since March 28, 2013, Quebec’s courts adopted guidelines concerning the use of electronic devices in courtrooms, which include prohibiting the use of email, tweet or text from inside the courtrooms, among other measures.
Online service for families and individuals
With a new online service for families, separated or divorced parents whose income has changed can use the web to update the amount of child support assigned for minor children without the intervention of the court, and at a lower cost.
The Service administratif de rajustement des pensions alimentaires pour enfants (SARPA) is administered by the Commission des services juridiques. It allows parents to check the admissibility of their situation online, and then fill out their request to modify their child support payments at a cost of $275 for individuals who are ineligible for legal aid.
In addition, an online dispute resolution pilot project to resolve small claims is scheduled to be launched in the fall by the Quebec government. The program was developed in partnership with the University of Montreal’s Cyberjustice Laboratory.
Coming into force of the new Quebec Code of Civil Procedure
The minister also took the opportunity to point out that the threshold for small claims court could increase from $7,000 to $15,000 on January 1, 2015, if the legislative calendar permits, and provisions of the new Quebec Code of Civil Procedure are scheduled to come into effect beginning in the year 2016.
Making the Quebec legal system technology savvy is a slow process compared to other provinces in Canada, and other countries. But the above initiatives show that the Quebec Ministry of Justice is finally taking the necessary steps to make the legal system more efficient, transparent, and accessible.