JOINING THE DIGITAL AGE: ONTARIO COURTS START TO GO PAPERLESS


If you’ve ever been involved in the legal process, you know how much paperwork is involved. Applications, court forms, records, correspondence, evidence… it all ends up printed and filed away in lawyers’ accordion folders. Furthermore, the other parties and the court require copies of many of these documents. With all these papers floating around, it’s not uncommon for documents to go missing or for parties to get bogged down with paperwork. It’s an antiquated system in dire need of a complete overhaul.

Recently, the Ontario Budget disclosed that a new, digitized system is in the works for Ontario’s Courts. The system is expected to be implemented in approximately three years, and is currently in the planning stages. The province attempted to introduce a digital data management system in the early 2000s, but the technology of that time was not adequately equipped to deal with the needs of the court. The newly revamped system, called the Court Information Management System, or “CIMS”, will allow litigants and their lawyers to file certain court documents electronically, pay filing fees online, and access their documents 24 hours a day, as opposed to the traditional 9-4 hours of the courthouse.

What does this mean for you as you’re navigating the divorce process? The digitization of the Family Courts will result in significant improvements to the divorce process in Ontario. Most notably, the ability to file documents online will save considerable time and expense to both lawyers and their clients. In some cases, it will eliminate the need to use process servers, which can be costly, or to have the lawyer or his/her staff file the documents, which can be even more costly when you’re paying an hourly rate. Furthermore, it will reduce the amount of photocopying (the cost of which can be astronomical, especially when a matter is proceeding to trial) and would simplify the overwhelming process of organizing legal documents.

Digital document management is the way of the future, and a trend that is being adopted by large and small law firms alike. Over the past few years, the sheer volume of paperwork involved in litigation has created a niche market for litigation support law firms, where lawyers provide innovative solutions for the organization of data and litigation materials. This trend reflects the need for a more efficient system that will allow lawyers to advocate for their clients without being slowed down by the court process. While complete digitization of the legal system is still many years away, Ontario’s move towards a more streamlined, paperless system is a step in the right direction both in terms of efficiency and accessibility- two areas in which the court system can always stand to improve.

For more information on divorce and other family law matters, please visit MyOntarioDivorce.com or BermanBarristers.com.

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