Courts and electronic files

An Ontario Court judge issued a decision this week bemoaning the lack of electronic court records: “I suppose that on a sunny, unusually warm, mid-March day one should be mellow and accept, without complaint, the systemic failures and delay of this Court’s document management system.”

The comments were written by Justice Brown in Romspen Investment Corp. v. 6176666 Canada Ltée., 2012 ONSC 1727, a matter on the Ontario Court’s commercial list. He concluded his comments on the frustrations of the paper system as follows:

[16]           Yes, Virginia, somewhere, someone one must have created such a system, and perhaps sometime, in an another decade or so, rumours of such a possibility may waft into the paper-strewn corridors of the Court Services Division of the Ministry of the Attorney General and a slow awakening may occur.

[17]           If some may consider such criticism un-judicial in tone, I make no apology for the language used.  The state of this Court’s document management and case scheduling systems is a scandal, and the poor excuse of a system which currently is employed should be subject to relentless criticism – judicial and otherwise – until it is discarded and the people of this province are provided by the provincial government with a court administration system of a quality which they deserve.

Members of the Federal Court and lawyers using the Federal Court have commented on a similar lack of electronic systems in that Court. The Federal Court is considering changes to its Rules to facilitate an electronic document and registry system.

(Thanks to CanLII for noting this decision via Twitter.)