Victoria’s First Electronic Trial

Victorias First E-trial
View from the Judge’s Bench in Victoria’s First E-Trial

Victoria’s first full electronic trial (E-Trial) is a good example of how simple technology can improve litigation. In West Moberly First Nations v British Columbia, 2017 BCSC 1700, the parties successfully created and used a simple electronic trial (E-Trial) platform to both present evidence and enter it with the court. Watch this 3-minute video to see how the documents were displayed in court.

E-trials can involve either a few or a whole raft of technologies to replace regular paper processes in court. The Advocate’s Society 2015 Paperless Trial Manual provides a long list of the hardware and software available, at least to the date of that Manual.

The West Moberly E-trial Platform used only “over-the-counter” software in the courtroom: the common book was PDF documents, titled with careful naming conventions. The naming convention allowed counsel to use the same language they would have used in a paper trial when referring to documents in the joint book. For example, the PDF’ed documents were put into folders and the folders were renamed as “Volumes”. This allowed presenting counsel to stand before the court and say, just as they always had in paper trials: “I would like to turn to the document at Volume 34, Tab
3321 of the joint book of documents”. Exhibits followed similar, simple and careful naming conventions.

Why it matters: Victoria’s first electronic trial ran use a platform that was simple but effective. It saved considerable space since each party did not need to bring in a copy of the 100 volume common book of documents. It saved time every time all parties, the judge and the witness were taken to a document instantly, rather than collectively fumbling for the correct volume, tab and page. These are benefits echoed by other judges who have presided over electronic trials, and it is why my goal is to have everyone litigating on e-trial platforms by 2025.