The Canadian Judicial Council posted a National Model Practise Direction for the Use of Technology in Civil Litigation in 2008. It has exactly the same words and template as BC’s Practise Direction (2006) and Alberta’s Practise Direction (first published in 2007, updated in 2011). Indeed, the press release that accompanied the National Model Practise Direction remarks on these two directions with approval, adding a hopeful note that other trial courts might consider implementing their own practise directions.
The Model Direction encourages parties to use technology in trials where most of the exchanged documents are already in a digital format, the total number of documents is over 1000 documents (or 3,000 pages), there are more than three parties, or the proceedings are multi jurisdictional or cross border.
Why it matters: The Model Direction is still useful because it gives judges across Canada somewhere to ground themselves when parties bring electronic trials into the courtroom. The press release says it provides “provides much-needed guidance to trial judges and lawyers with respect to the best practices for exchanging productions in electronic form, as well as handling paperless trials. Counsel will be encouraged to use a format of exchange which reduces the cost of litigation and improves access to justice.”
The National Model Practice Direction was accompanied by a National Generic Protocol, which is a template protocol for exchanging documents digitally, rather than a protocol for running an e-trial. The document sets out an “exchange regime” that references old formats (such as “single page TIFF format”). It is old, but it may be useful for grounding parties in the process of exchanging documents digitally. Savvy parties will want to use an updated protocol.