The appeal court is the last of the province’s three levels to make the move, since Supreme Court and Provincial Court have both offered electronic filing since 2007. A year-long pilot at the top court gave some law firms the option to file documents 24 hours a day, but it has now been extended.
B.C. Chief Justice Lance Finch welcomes the move.
“Court of Appeal e-filing expands access to the court for litigants outside B.C.’s major urban centres by allowing parties to file documents without attending at the court,” says Finch. “As more court documents come online, court information can be distributed and searched from law offices, home computers or public access terminals. Litigants, judges as well as the public can only benefit from this improved level of accessibility and court openness.”
Attorney General Shirley Bond is also enthusiastic about the project’s extension, claiming it will streamline the justice system for users.
“In addition to being green, this project is just one of the steps we are taking to enhance access to the courts and reform the justice system,” she says.
The pilot project launched in June 2011, as a partnership between the appeal court, the ministry of justice, and a number of law firms. Since then, 547 documents have been filed online by participants in the experiment.
Court users in civil appeals can use the service to file notices of appeal, leaves to appeal, notices of cross appeal, notices of motion, affidavits, certificates of readiness, applications to vary, leaves to intervene, indigent applications, notices of settlement or abandonment, letters, requisitions, registrar’s appointments, bills of costs, and certificates of costs.
After filing, they become instantaneously available to litigants and the public through B.C.’s electronic registry, Court Services Online.