Chief Justice: the legal system must modernize

Ottawa –

Canada’s chief justice says the legal system must continue to modernize and innovate, warning that it can’t go back to the way it was before the pandemic.

Richard Wagner of the Supreme Court of Canada said in a press conference on Thursday that all players in the justice system are re-evaluating what they do, how they do it and how effectively they respond. the needs of the people they serve.

Wagner asserts that access to justice is not just a basic right or a service, but above all a basic human need and an essential component of democracy.

He acknowledges that meeting expectations of justice in a timely manner is a big task, especially with so many courts facing backlogs and delays.

This is why a committee on court operations in response to COVID-19 continues to meet even as the pandemic subsides, Wagner says.

The Commission recently drafted a document for judges and court administrators with practical recommendations for resolving issues faster and more efficiently.

The Supreme Court began holding hearings via videoconference, as well as mixed sessions, in 2020 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Other courts across the country quickly adapted, allowing the use of audio and video technology for hearings as well as more digital documents.

Wagner said last year the Supreme Court would continue to hold virtual hearings beyond the COVID-19 pandemic if participants agreed to them.

“Now, we actively encourage remote hearings.”

The technology levels the playing field for everyone, he says, giving parties the option to make their case from anywhere they choose and significant savings – especially for those furthest away from Ottawa. , he said.

This improves access to justice, especially for those who interfere, such as public interest groups, giving courts more context and perspective on challenging legal issues. , Wagner added.

“Really, it doesn’t matter if lawyers stand in front of them or appear on screen. Rigorous, logical, and convincing arguments can be made from anywhere.”

Wagner says the courts have a key role to play in implementing the values ​​of the rule of law and democratic institutions.

“However, even in Canada, nothing is certain. I try to remind you that we must constantly remain vigilant, knowing that attacks and breaches in this regard are sometimes insidious. and react too late, if there is a reaction.”

This Canadian Press report was first published on June 16, 2022.

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