From Court Services Online

E-filing pilot now in full swing

On June 26, e-filing began at the Vancouver Law Courts registry, the last of seven registries chosen for the Ministry of Attorney General’s Court Services Online (CSO) e-file pilot project.

The pilot began October 2005 in the Kelowna and Vernon court registries, and later moved on to Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Victoria and Prince Rupert. A small group of participants was chosen from each pilot registry location. Currently, there are 38 law firms, registry agents and bankruptcy trustees participating in the pilot and more than 2,000 court documents have been e-filed.

The e-file application is simple and easy to use. Participants convert their documents to Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), log on to the CSO website, provide some basic information and submit the electronic document for filing. Statutory filing fees are currently paid by credit card, but an option to use a BC Online deposit account is being developed and will be available soon.

After submitting their documents, participants can check the status at any time by logging into their CSO account. After a document has been accepted by the registry, it is electronically stamped and participants can then download the stamped version of the document for their files.

With the e-file pilot, British Columbia has become the first province in Canada to introduce a comprehensive court e-filing system that incorporates the use of electronic documents within an electronic court record. Although the pilot has faced the kind of challenges that come with such a groundbreaking project, feedback from pilot participants has been very positive.

The limited pilot is expected to continue for several more months. During this time, the focus will be on further developing the “e-registry” capabilities to maximize the benefits of e-filing in the registry. A separate component focusing on the use of electronic court documents by the judiciary will also be introduced. This component will provide the judiciary with the ability to access electronic documents from the bench and beyond, and even allow judges to digitally sign documents requiring their signature. Once this work is complete, look for e-filing to become more widely available across the province.

For more information on the e-filing pilot project, contact the CSO project liaison Thomas Broeren at 250 472-8949 or by e-mail at thomas.broeren@gordium.ca.