Ontario is planning to introduce a digital court system that will allow people to access court information from anywhere, and file documents and pay fees online.
Attorney General Doug Downey says it will be a foundational transformation and will potentially be the biggest investment in the justice system in Ontario’s history.
He says he’s not able to disclose a dollar figure yet, as the technology is in the procurement process, but he hopes to have a deal signed by the end of the fall.
The system should allow people to submit documents, access court information, schedule matters and appearances, pay fees, and receive decisions electronically.
Downey says the goal is for court users to be able to do everything digitally from start to finish, but paper services should still be available for those who can’t access online functions.
It’s something the Ontario government has tried before but ultimately ended up scrapping in favour of a piecemeal approach to modernization, but Downey says this time it will come to fruition.
“This isn’t a concept. This is actually happening,” he said. “The system is way far behind where it should be.”
As for whether journalists are included in the court users who will get digital access to court documents, Downey said he believes in the open court principle, but there will have to be a discussion among the profession about what types of records and information should be public and what shouldn’t.