CaseLines in Ontario

CaseLines in Ontario is modernizing the Superior Court of Justice. The program rollout began in Summer 2020, and two years later it is being used in most hearings before the Superior Court. CaseLines is not limited to remote hearings. Parties expect to use CaseLines and refer to the “Bates Numbers” on each page when attending in-person hearings too.

A Screenshot of CaseLines in Ontario — The Superior Court is using CaseLines during both remote and in-person hearings

A “Notice to the Profession, Parties, Public and the Media” dated August 2022 provides the most recent update on CaseLines in Ontario. Lawyers working in other jurisdictions can review this notice for tips on how to run a smooth e-trial. For example, the Naming Protocol sets a standard format for naming electronic documents. Agreeing on a naming protocol can help all parties and the court locate documents more easily in any electronic trial.

2. Standard document naming protocol
When documents are submitted to the court in electronic format, the document name must be saved as follows:

(1) Document type (including the form number in family cases),

(2) Type of party submitting the document,

(30 Name of the party submitting the document (including initials if the name is not unique to the case), and

(4) Date on which the document was created or signed, in the format DD-MMM-YYYY (e.g. 12-JAN-2021).

Example: Expert Report – Defendant – Loblaws Inc. – 13-MAR-2021

Source: Notice to the Profession, Parties, Public and the Media dated August 20, 2022, Ontario Superior Court of Justice

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice provides a Guide to CaseLines and a “Quick Tips” document.

Chief Justice Morawetz has said it was always his goal to modernize the Ontario courts. He noted that they had used change managers to facilitate the shift to new tools [1]. Ontario Superior Court Justice Fred Myers commented that the rollout of the new tool owed much to having “the right chief at the right time”.[2]

Why this matters:

When people in the justice system use new tools that work (such as CaseLines), they “learn by doing” and accrue “user experience”. As they gain experience and confidence with the new tool, they see and consider new possibilities. They can offer evidence-based opinions on what works and what needs improvement. In Ontario, the judiciary, lawyers, court administration and those using the courts to solve their legal problems have already years of these experiences. In my opinion, this user experience has value.

[1] Justice Fred L Myers & Kate Gower, “The Essential Guide to Preparing and Navigating Electronic Documents for Remote Advocacy”, Canadian Bar Association (23 February 2021).

[2] Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, “Hybrid Courts: The New Operational Normal” (12 May 2021).