Some effort is being made to modernize our courts through a new pilot project launched on February 11, 2019 for all matters on the Commercial List in Toronto.
All parties and counsel will be required to use the assigned “Digital Hearing Workspace” to deliver documents electronically to the judicial officer and other parties or counsel in the matter. If the parties fail to electronically upload documents using the workspace, the presiding judicial official may “address” such failure (no specifics were given as to the consequences of not uploading).
What is a Digital Hearing Workspace?
It is NOT a court filing service. It is a document sharing service or online document management platform. So, documents shared in the workspace must still be filed in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure and applicable practice directions.
The pilot is intended to replace electronic delivery by email, USB Key and CD-ROM (people still use those?) The goal for the project is to “make delivering, storing, organizing and retrieving documents filed in Commercial List proceedings easier for the parties, counsel, judicial officials and court staff involved in these matters.”
Where do you access the Digital Hearing Workspace?
If you are counsel or a self-represented individual, you will be assigned to a Digital Hearing Workspace for your case. You will be sent an email requesting you to register for the workspace. Court staff must approve your registration before you can access it.
For step by step instructions on how to access the workspace, upload documents, view documents, etc. see the “Digital Hearing Workspace User Guide”, which has helpful graphics as well.
It is important to note that the file name of documents uploaded to the Digital Hearing Workspace must follow the naming convention outline in the “Guide Concerning e-Delivery of Documents in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice”.
Once the case has been disposed of by a final decision, the workspace will be closed and users will no longer have access.
For more information see the Practice Advisory Concerning Electronic Documents in Commercial List Proceedings, dated February 11, 2019, which supplements the Consolidated Practice Direction Concerning the Commercial List, dated July 1, 2014. Counsel and parties are also advised to review the relevant parts of the Consolidated Provincial Practice Direction and any other applicable Toronto Region-Specific practice directions or guides (this seems like a lot of practice directions to us – one consolidated document/practice direction might work better?)
How helpful do you think this pilot project will be? It is great to see some movement toward modernizing our court system. We look forward to more developments in this area.
Photo by Andras Vas on Unsplash