A E-Appeal in Nova Scotia

An E-Appeal in Nova Scotia sets the stage for more efficient and effective e-hearings in that province’s courts.

After the successful electronic trial of R v. Colpitts, the appeal ran with an entirely electronic record. Jane O’Neill, Q.C. (co-counsel with Brian H. Greenspan for Daniel Potter) and her team prepared the record and submitted it to the Court of Appeal and the other parties on thumb drives. The Court of Appeal used “clickshare” to display during submissions.

“I think that if a 73 year old courtroom lawyer who has been at it for 46 years thinks that it’s a great idea means I don’t understand why anyone 20 or 30 years my junior would take objection to the efficient and effective use of electronic materials.”

Brian H. Greenspan, co-counsel with Jane O’Neill, Q.C. for Daniel Potter

The record, without authorities, was over 1,000,000 pages per copy. O’Neill did the math on the cost savings: taking into account the cost of paper, bindings, tabs and toner the cost to prepare the materials in paper would have been over $400,000. Instead, the parties and the court were each given a $10 thumb drive.

To help everyone adjust to a paperless E-Appeal, the parties discussed the electronic processes at Case Management Conferences several times prior to the appeal, and held a “test run” with the three justice panel.

Why this matters: This is a clear case where the electronic courtroom was a win for the legal system. It was complex commercial fraud litigation, with a massive record, which (I am told) would have required a large truck to bring to the courthouse in paper form. So “Hats Off!” to all counsel and the courts for ensuring the litigation ran in the electronic environment saving all involved valuable space and time.

As a result, both the court and counsel have hands-on experience with an E-Appeal. Justices Cindy A. Bourgeois, Anne S. Derrick, and Elizabeth Van den Eynden formed the panel for this E-Appeal. Jane McNeil Q.C. has since used the E-Appeal format before Justices David P.S. Farrar, Peter M.S. Bryson, Joel E. Fichaud to argue her portion of the appeal of Downton v. Organigram. Courtroom 502 is fitted out with monitors at all tables and with a large screen for the public gallery and ready for the next E-Appeal in Nova Scotia.

Further, hands-on experience with E-Appeals in Nova Scotia leads to evidence-based suggestions for improvements to process. For example, that the “Motion for Date and Direction” (in the Nova Scotia Civil Procedure Rules) is an good place for counsel (or perhaps the court?) to bring up the possibility of an electronic hearing.