Modernizing Ontario’s Justice System: MAG’s Pilot Project with CaseLines

August 31, 2020 Sydney Osmar Litigation Tags: 0 Comments

Further to the Superior Court of Justice’s Supplementary Notice to the Profession dated August 5, 2020, the Ministry of the Attorney General is rolling out a new pilot project: CaseLines.

The SCJ has described CaseLines as a “user-friendly cloud-based document sharing and storage e-hearing platform for remote and in-person court proceedings.”

The pilot project began August 10, 2020 for selected civil motions and pre-trial conferences in Toronto, with an aim to incrementally expand to other practice areas and court locations. According to the SCJ’s website, the goal is to have CaseLines implemented province-wide in all SCJ court locations by December 31, 2020.

The SCJ is encouraging the bar to pre-register for CaseLines by signing up here.

I have had the opportunity to attend the CaseLines information session hosted by the SCJ, as well as the CaseLines webinar hosted by The Advocates’ Society. Below, I have summarized some of the main takeaways:

  • Once a new matter is initiated, court staff will open a CaseLines file and email a link to counsel and/or any self-represented parties. If counsel have pre-registered they will have immediate access to the file. If they have not yet registered, they will be re-directed to the registration page;
  • Counsel will be able to add their staff to the case, so that anyone involved in the matter from their office can have access to the case;
  • All briefs and documents relevant to the matter that counsel intend to rely upon at the hearing can then be uploaded to the open file in CaseLines. You cannot edit documents once they have been uploaded, so if an error is noticed, the document should be deleted with the corrected version uploaded in its place;
  • At this stage, CaseLines is not yet integrated with the Justice Services Online Portal so all relevant materials must be filed in accordance with the Rules (either physically or through Justice Services) and separately uploaded to CaseLines;
  • When the documentation is uploaded to CaseLines it is scanned by OCR technology and page numbered such that key word searches can be conducted;
  • Zoom is integrated with CaseLines such that counsel will be able to direct the judge, or witnesses etc. to pincites in their materials. There are also functions that allow counsel and the judge to take notes directly on the uploaded materials. Users have the ability to adjust their settings so that only they can see the notes taken onto the materials, or, so that they can highlight a particular reference to draw the necessary parties to its attention;
  • Because this is a cloud based document sharing technology, counsel will now be able to upload all electronic evidence, including photos, videos etc. CaseLines also enables you to cull up the metadata for the electronic evidence to speak to its veracity.

Above is a summary of just some of the main takeaways from the information sessions I have attended. However, the functionality of CaseLines goes well beyond what is described above and I would encourage counsel to watch the SCJ’s recorded information session, which can be located here.

Thanks for reading!

Sydney Osmar

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