iPad E-Trials in Ontario

iPad E-trials are happening in Ontario courts. Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. v Schad, 2016 ONSC 2297 was a four-week E-Trial heard between November 23 – December 23, 2015, regarding alleged misuse of confidential information in the process of manufacturing. The Reasons for Judgment allude to “the fact that the trial was entirely electronically run on monitors with no paper exhibits,” at paragraph 44, noting that the electronic platform facilitated witness examinations in court.

iPad E-Trial

Justice Newbould directed that no paper copies of documents would be used during trial. Chantelle Cseh told me that she and her team had the idea of using iPads in litigation after one of her colleagues saw an episode of “The Good Wife”. 

Rather than handing out binders full of paper in court, a party arrives with electronic binders downloaded onto a number of iPads, and hands out iPads instead. An iPad is also loaded and regularly updated with all necessary materials for the judge (including opening and closing statements, examination binders and case law).

This E-Trial platform does not necessarily require internet in the courtroom since it relies primarily on pre-loaded iPads. As trial progresses, the parties can use a number of different mechanisms to share new electronic documents either before or during the hearing day (some of which require internet connectivity and others that do not), including specialized USB keys, Apple “Airdrop” or secure FTP sites.

After testing out a number of iPad applications, Ms. Cseh and her team are now using PDF Expert and Goodreader as the principal applications to organize documents for electronic hearings. Exhibits were saved as sub-folders named for each witness. Entering the final exhibit set with the court can be done a number of ways, including by saving to a USB at the end of trial and providing that USB to the court (with the court’s permission). 

Why this matters: Toronto’s Commercial List is working hard to improve access to and the delivery of justice. This is the same court in which Justice Brown ordered parties to conduct an action as an E-Trial. Ms. Cseh informs me that many judges on the Commercial List mandate E-Trials, and that Justice Newbould directed a number of E-Trials, including some iPad E-Trials, in the period after Husky.

Thus, since Husky there have been a number of successful iPad E-Trials, including Dunsmuir v Royal Group, Inc., 2017 ONSC 4391. Ms. Cseh and her team have prepared a Precedent Protocol for a Trial by iPad – Look for it in the Modern Law Blog.

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