Why the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Has Barely Missed a Beat During the Pandemic

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The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has been fully functional for almost the entire time period during the pandemic. The court has easily transitioned to web-based hearings at the end of March 2020, – as announced here. Hearings are being heard in their ordinary order, in the same numbers as before the pandemic.

Saskatchewan’s swift success in switching to online appeals is due to changes made over 8 years ago. Around 2012, the Court of Appeal switched to electronic filing and electronic case management by using the software eCourt

eCourt is an integrated electronic software system configured to meet the needs of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal. It automates many of the Court’s procedures… eCourt has three … functions: (1) case management (2) document management and (3) e-filing… The e-filing component of eCourt enables anyone with access to the internet and a credit card (Visa or Mastercard) to submit documents electronically to the Registry. The e-filing service is accessible 24/7 to anyone …

The change to electronic filing was smooth and quick. In under a year, the court had a fully functional electronic system. Why did they succeed when other courts have failed?

  1. The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has a culture of welcoming innovation.
  2. The changes were judge driven, and came from the top of the court.
  3. The court did not try to reinvent the wheel.

Instead of inventing new programs, the court licensed an e-filing system that had a proven track record of success. The system had been licensed in over 200 courts.

The Court of Appeal had the system modified to meet the needs of the Court and the Registry. The judges knew what features they needed and which features could be discarded.

The Court also ensured that the system would be easy for the users as well. eCourt is free for the public and does not require users to download or buy a separate program to access it.

There have been many advantages to using eCourt. This includes cost savings, time savings, and being able to pivot when necessary. While other courts have struggled to adapt during the pandemic, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has barely missed a beat.

(Views are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization. This article was originally posted on slaw.ca.)

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