The Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta published Civil Practice Note No. 4 in 2007, and updated it in March 2011. It is almost exactly the same wording and template as the 2008 National Model Practise Direction and the 2006 Practise Direction in the British Columbia Supreme Court on using technology in civil litigation.
Alberta’s Practise note encourages parties to go e-trial where most of the documents are already digital, the total number of documents is 1000+ documents (or 3,000+ pages), there are more than three parties, or the proceedings are multi jurisdictional or cross border. E-trials are encouraged for cases over 10 days long.
Why it matters: This Practise Note is more proactive than the 2008 National Direction and BC’s Practise Direction. It pushes parties to make submissions to the court before the first pre-trial conference on the best use of technology their trial. In section 2.4, it departs from the wording in the National Directive and says Parties should use “best efforts” to agree between themselves on using technology before going to the court for direction.
The Alberta courts give us one of the few reported cases in which a judge comments on e-trials. Justice Germain presided over Edmonton’s first E-trial in 2010. He included a 17 paragraph “Schedule 1 – Judicial Comments About the Electronic (Digital) Trial Format” at the end of his reasons for judgement, giving a nice summary of the e-trial format and his experience. His final line is: “I concluded the evidentiary portion of this case with a view that I had seen a glimpse of the future.”
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