The Saik’uz E-Trial is running in courtroom 44 at the Vancouver Courthouse before the Honourable Mr. Justice Kent.
Note: While the citation (Thomas v. Rio Tinto Alcan Inc.) includes the surname of the first-named plaintiff, many refer to the case by the first-named First Nation, i.e. “Saik’uz”.
At trial, Saik’uz First Nation and Stellat’en First Nation are suing Rio Tinto Alcan’s (“Alcan”) for the torts of nuisance and wrongful interference with riparian rights. They claim that Alcan’s operation of the Kenney Dam on the Nechako River in northwest B.C. has caused numerous adverse impacts to both the river and its fishery resources. For details on the case, I recommend Justice Kent’s summary in his 2016 decision adding both the federal and provincial Crown as defendants. Trial began in Fall 2019 and it set for 13 months.
The parties are using Sync.com’s cloud storage program to house the electronic documents. Documents are pre-loaded into Sync in mindfully organized folders. The parties collectively pay to have a person in the courtroom during court, acting as a dedicated “court technician”. The court technician receives e-documents from the parties and ensures the documents are loaded into the correct folder in Sync. The Court Clerk and court technician ensure the electronic documents are available to Justice Kent.
Counsel informs me that any document marked as an exhibit is being burned onto a CD so that it may be submitted to the Exhibits Custodian.
Why this matters: There are three different styles of E-Trials running in B.C. right now: the Saik’uz E-Trial, the Cowichan E-Trial and the Nuchatlaht E-Hearings. Each is using a different E-Trial Platform. E-trial enthusiasts can (and should) take the opportunity to see how each platform works.
E-Trial experience is building. Going forward, legal counsel in B.C. and the B.C. Supreme Court will have solid evidence and experience to review as we make the case for improving legal processes and, ultimately, access to justice. One lawyer has already calculated how and where E-Trials save money, and provided some compelling evidence for E-Trials.