An E-Trial is a trial that uses electronic technology, hardware (computers and monitors) and software (the programs that run on them and agreed-to protocols and processes), in place of some – or all – of the traditional paper processes.
An e-trial may involve one or more of the following elements:
1. hardware to display evidence, visual aids or legal argument in the courtroom;
2. software to house and enter exhibits in court;
3. real time transcription;
4. a system for cross examination and discovery with electronic documents;
5. a system to enter collections of evidence (such as read-ins from discovery evidence)
for submission to the court;
6. access to the internet from the courtroom;
7. access to the court record remotely from outside the courtroom during the trial;
8. a portable court record (transcripts, exhibits, read-ins, submissions, and authorities) that may be carried by parties or the trial judge in a laptop;
9. transcripts, exhibits, read-ins, submissions, and authorities that are hyperlinked electronically; and
10. in the case of the judge, hardware and software that helps with preparing the judgment.
You will most likely be in a normal courtroom, but with monitors on all the desks, including those for the witness, the clerk and the judge.
There is no single model for an E-trial, and – with only a few exceptions – Canada’s courts are not set up to litigate electronically. This means that counsel is responsible for choosing the e-trial elements that are best suited to their litigation, and bringing it into the courtroom. Reasonable costs incurred in providing the infrastructure for the electronic hearing qualify as an allowable disbursement.