Access to Court Records in Ontario

Is there anyone else out there who is tearing their hair out over Ontario’s antediluvian system of providing access to court records?

In the Federal Courts, the Supreme Court of Canada, and (to some extent) the Manitoba courts, one can obtain free, web-based access to case and docket entry information. In British Columbia and Quebec one can also obtain such information via the web, though it is not free.

Meanwhile, in Ontario, we are making do with pencil and paper. No, I’m not joking. For actions commenced after April 25, 2008, so I’m told, searches – by party name only – must be requested in person at the court registry office, and performed by the Registrar, who then dictates results to be written down by the person requesting the search.

I realize modernizing court administration probably isn’t a major political priority – say, like maintaining film censorship, or banning pit bulls. Still, I would really like someone to explain why, when other jurisdictions in Canada manage to have 21st century court record access, we are stuck in the 19th.


  1. See Thomas Granger’s comments in the August 15 issue of Lawyer’s Weekly. In it, Justice Granger offers up some startling numbers, estimating that by using electronic documents as exhibits, they saved 50 days at trial, and an estimated $500,000!

  2. I moved back to Toronto a year ago after law school in Chicago area and 2 years at a firm in Cook County/7th Circuit. I loved Cook County’s e-dockets and LOVED the federal court filing system. I’m working towards my license now here in Canada and I am known to complain about the lack of an electronic system/accessibility in litigation. As a young associate back in Chicago, I was on the front line of dockets/filing and I wish someone would put me on a panel/planning group for making courts accessible here. I’ve got lots of suggestions on what works and what doesn’t work from personal experience. In fact, if anyone from the CBA or AG is reading this: in_stride at hotmail.