Paper Copies for Courts

I posted on SLAW over one year ago on the issue of Copies of cases for court – official print reporters versus online versions.

I continue to hear of a “preference” for copies of cases photocopied from print case law reporters, often in terms of “the judge prefers print copies.”

Although Simon Fodden correctly pointed out in a comment to that post that the Ontario Court of Appeal formally allows electronic versions of cases, as per s. 10.5 of their Practice Direction Concerning Civil Appeals in the Court of Appeal, is there a need for the Ontario legal community to ask the Chief Justices of each of the Ontario Court of Justice and Ontario Superior Court of Justice to issue practice directions for their courts allowing electronic versions? Doing so might make lawyers more comfortable using online versions of cases in court (where the online version is well-formatted and contains paragraph numbering). If the Supreme Court of Canada and the Ontario Court of Appeal officially allow online versions, one might assume that the Ontario Court of Justice and Ontario Superior Court of Justice would or should do the same. Formal practice directions in that regard would remove any uncertainty.

I am tempted to ask the Toronto and Canadian Associations of Law Libraries to make the request, along with, perhaps other organizations such as The Advocates’ Society and the like.

Am I missing something?

Also: many readers may not realize that the Divisional Court has an online list of cases that are included in a Judge’s Book of Authorities (Divisional Court) containing frequently cited cases that lawyers need not include in their facta (since the Court already has copies of them).


  1. I think that is a great idea, Ted. My guess is this would also reduce some costs for clients as printing out an electronic copy can be less expensive than photocopying in many instances.

  2. I’d certainly support this idea, Ted. The Canadian Judicial Council has been behind the idea of electronic versions since 1992, but I guess that, absent “real” directions from the courts themselves, the risk-averse are going to go with what they know will be accepted. If this works, perhaps the agencies, boards and tribunals could be approached as well?

  3. Ted:

    I have been in many CLE’s where, in response to a question of whether the Bench prefers paper or electronic submissions, the judge on the panel discussion has specifically stated that they prefer lawyers submitting their materials on CD (now flash drives) as they can take that along with them on the weekend or evening instead of lugging around heavy books…

    Perhaps all that is needed is more communication between the Bench and the Bar?

    Perhaps Dominic Jaar can help out all of us now in his new role…


    Dave Bilinsky