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After the pandemic: Digitalizing our courts

Yves Faguy speaks with Karen Eltis, the author of "Courts, Litigants and the Digital Age," about the pressing need to modernize our courts, the risks involved, and the precautions we should be taking.

online courts

COVID-19 has forced innovation on a scale and at a pace that our court system would never have contemplated just a few months ago. Some courts have gone as far as holding virtual trials. Across several jurisdictions, litigant parties are at the very least expected to use available technology, where they can, to move matters along. And this month, the Supreme Court of Canada launched virtual hearings for the first time using Zoom.

For a justice system long characterized by its slow-grinding wheels, this is no small thing. And for proponents of digitalization, it's an opportunity to radically redesign our courts for the 21st century. We can also expect pressure to grow on governments to fund technological solutions that will help bring down the court backlog – and improve access to justice.

But the accelerated change raises more than a few questions. Can the justice system keep up with this pace of change post-COVID? Are we overlooking the disadvantages of moving significant parts of the court system online? And what precautions should we be taking?

To discuss these questions on our fourth episode of After the pandemic – A conversation about the future of justice, we invited Karen Eltis, a law professor at the University of Ottawa and the author of "Courts, Litigants and the Digital Age." Eltis specializes in artificial intelligence, innovation law and policy, and cybersecurity and has been invited as a subject matter expert to inform the work of the CBA Task Force on Justice Issues Arising from COVID-1.

Listen to After the pandemic (Ep. 04): Digitalizing our courts.

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