The Honourable Mr. Justice Brown is known for both his thorough
and considered judgments as well as his occasional venting about
inefficiencies in our court system. For instance, his 2012
endorsement in Romspen Investment Corp. v. 6176666 Canada
Ltee begins with the heading "Just how broken is the
document management system in the Superior Court of Justice"
and included a call to "consign our paper-based document
management system to the scrap heap of history and equip this Court
with a modern, electronic document system."
Earlier this month, Justice Brown again delivered his views on
the need for a shift to a more paperless system, particularly in
cases with mountains of documents. In a simple case conference
memorandum on Bank of Montreal v. Faibish, His
Honour made his feelings on the subject known once again:
Let me express my profound frustration as a judge
who has tried to encourage both counsel and fellow judges to make
greater use of modern information technologies in our Court.
Those who make up the public court system – be they the
judges adjudicating the cases or the counsel pleading them –
provide a service to members of the public who face legal
problems. While that service possesses some distinctive
attributes – constitutional status, part of the foundation of
a democratic system of government, etc. – it still remains a
service. As a service it must be alive to the way in which
the community it serves handles and communicates information.
Our community has undergone radical changes in
the way it handles and communicates information. Take music,
as an example. As a teenager I treasured my collection of 45
rpms; today, my grandchildren would not know what they were looking
at if shown one of the 45 snap-in inserts. A decade later
8-Tracks and cassettes were the rage; they have gone the way of the
Dodo bird. Then CDs began their dominance, but are now
rapidly fading under the onslaught of MP3s and other digital
Providers of music to the public have had to
adapt to changes in technology in order to continue to provide
their particular service. Why should courts and lawyers be
any different? Why should we be able to expect that treating
courts like some kind of fossilized Jurassic Park will enable them
to continue to provide a most needed service to the public in a way
the public respects? How many wake-up calls do the legal
profession and the court system need before both look around and
discover that they have become irrelevant museum pieces?
Our Court must choose: are we a Court of the Past
or a Court of the Future? I vote for a Court of the Future,
and therefore I will not accept counsel's suggestion that the
six-week trial for this complex commercial litigation on the
Toronto Region Commercial List proceed using both paper and digital
information. I know there are judges available who are
chomping at the bit to conduct more e-trials. Paper must
vanish from this Court and, frankly, the judiciary cannot let the
legal profession or our court service provider hold us back.
Accordingly, I order that the six-week trial of the Loretta and
Brome Actions be conducted as electronic trials. More than
enough time exists before the October 6 start date to organize the
trial materials electronically. I order counsel to provide me
with a formal e-trial plan at the June 26, 2014 case
Justice Brown is certainly not alone in his desire for a shift
to a more electronically-friendly system for both file management
and the conducting of trials and long motions. Perhaps sooner than
later, the Court of the Future will become the Court of the
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