Review of Senior Courts Electronic Documents Protocol - Feedback sought

The senior courts are reviewing the Electronic Documents Protocol.  His Hon. Justice Miller has requested feedback from the profession about the protocol, and their expert assistance in improving it.

There is a link at the bottom of this page for submitting your feedback.

The Court of Appeal has had significant experience with the protocol although other senior courts have less experience with it.  Of 47 civil appeals before the permanent Court in February – September 2018, 27 are electronic.  Only about 25 per cent of divisional court cases are electronic, perhaps because the casebooks are often smaller than the 500-page threshold.

The review is timely because it will inform the work of other courts, which are beginning to develop their own protocols as part of the courts modernisation project

Electronic Casebooks should:

  • improve the quality of advocacy, for both counsel and court;
  • increase courts’ efficiency in preparation, in hearing time, and in judgment-writing;
  • advance access to justice by being accessible and lowering the expense of court processes.

To do these things, they must:

  • use a standard, accessible format;
  • offer strong indexing, searching and annotation capability;
  • accommodate hyperlinks for cross-referencing;
  • allow the parties to add documents as a case progresses;
  • function in the Windows 10 operating environment to which the courts are presently moving.

Some of the questions to be addressed include:

  1. Is PDF still the best or is there a better alternative?
  2. Can the existing protocol can be made simpler and more efficient for those building casebooks?
  3. Should the 500-page threshold for appellate work be reduced?  At present it is optional for smaller casebooks;
  4. Can hyperlinking to pinpoint references be made easier or automated?
  5. Should the file structure be changed?  The Ministry would prefer this to accommodate electronic filing, which has been piloted in the Court of Appeal and will soon become business as usual there.  The portal cannot accommodate the file structure (or, at present, very large files).  It is, however, possible to retain the existing practice of lodging memory sticks.  A cost-benefit analysis is required;
  6. Should the protocol retain multiple PDFs, one for each discrete document, or merge them into one?
  7. What are the training and education needs of those using electronic casebooks?  

Please submit your Feedback on these questions as well as making other relevant comments by clicking here.

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