In the electronic age, the Ontario court system sticks out like a notepad in a sea of laptops for its reliance on paper-based methods – fax, mail and courier – to deliver and exchange documents. Thanks to lawyers Arin Klug (MA 2006, JD 2009) and Michael Tweyman, the first software for electronic legal-document exchange in Ontario – CourtSide EDX – is finally making inroads into tasks that were the exclusive province of paper.
“The legal profession is slow to adopt modern technology,” says Klug, who practices in the areas of tax and estate planning at Robins Appleby LLP in Toronto. “People tend to do things the old-fashioned way, but a tradition of inefficiency is not something we should cling to.”
CourtSide EDX began with the co-founders’ desire to find a faster, cheaper and environmentally friendly alternative for delivering court documents. Klug and Tweyman latched on to a section of Ontario’s Rules of Civil Procedure that covers physical document exchange and updated it for the computer generation. The pair proposed a regulation amendment to permit electronic document exchange, which was approved by the province’s Civil Rules Committee in August. When the updated law takes effect on January 1, 2015, users will be able to upload documents to other subscribers of the tool – the first web-based software designed specifically to conform to the new rules. Unlike email or Google Docs, the system automatically generates a printout of the “record of service” required by law, eliminating the need for an affidavit of service. “It gets rid of a confusing step that can cause a bottleneck in the process,” says Klug. Although the record of service must still be filed in person, Klug hopes CourtSide EDX will eventually help make paperless filing a possibility.
“We’re all comfortable with computers,” says Klug. “These changes were a long time coming for the legal community.”