Attorney General Yasir Naqvi launched an initiative to modernize Ontario’s courts and digitize justice services with the goal of “(increasing) access to justice and improve the way people interact with the justice system.” Many of your members will be interested in these initiatives which are expected to roll out over the next several months. By and large, these are welcome announcements though, as always, there may be details and problems with particular elements or ideas. We would be very interested in hearing from members who have concerns on any aspect of this plan so that we can share those concerns with the Attorney General and his staff.
The plan announced by the Attorney General includes:
- Developing digital tools, such as online questionnaires and e-mail summonses, to make it faster and more convenient to go through the jury process;
- Expanding the civil filing online pilot province wide to allow all Ontarians to file their civil claims online, 24/7, from any location;
- Developing a new digital service by spring 2018 to allow citizens to go online to look up the status of their traffic tickets and other provincial offences, and request early resolution meetings;
- Exploring online dispute resolution options to potentially allow people who receive a traffic or similar ticket to resolve matters from their computers or smart phones;
- Providing the option of filing joint divorce applications online by April 2018;
- Delivering an online service to set up or update child support to help parents save money on legal fees and avoid unnecessary trips to the courthouse;
- Building an online dispute resolution platform model with the Landlord and Tenant Board to help identify and develop the right tools so that tenants and landlords in Ontario can avoid and resolve disputes without formal legal processes;
- Funding start-ups that use artificial intelligence to develop solutions that help lawyers and consumers, or increase access to justice;
- Working towards a fully electronic court which will include a feature whereby all parties to a case will have access to a digital platform that contains all court documents. (This will start as a pilot program in spring 2018.)
- Remote court appearances and remote access to defence counsel will be expanded.
Of course, the headline grabbing news from this announcement was that the AG has committed to having wi-fi in all courts by 2019, though he did acknowledge that because of the age of some courthouses, this will continue to be a challenge to deliver on.
A full copy of the plan can be accessed at this link.