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Personal Injury

Mahabir encouraged by e-filing project expansion

The profession and the public will benefit from the extension of Ontario’s electronic court filing project, Toronto personal injury lawyer Jessica B. Mahabir tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General recently announced the second phase of its online service for filing civil claims — initially only available in six locations of the Superior Court of Justice — expanding the program to all court locations across the province.

“I was thrilled when I heard,” says Mahabir, a lawyer with Derfel Injury Lawyers. “Those in the legal profession are often the last ones to catch up with developments in technology, but it’s better late than never.

“The more of these types of administrative processes we can make electronic or digital, the better for everyone,” she adds.

The service allows litigants or their lawyers to initiate a civil claim, submit forms, and pay court fees through an online portal. Court-issued statements of claim and notices of action can also be received by email under the new project.

New features added since the summer launch include usability improvements, including the ability for claimants to save draft submissions for a later date and to track filed claims and payments.

After rolling out the pilot provincewide, the ministry is now working on expanding the types of court documents that can be filed electronically via the new service.

Mahabir says she expects the project to generate savings for law firms and court administration by eliminating the need for process servers to go to court buildings and file documents in person.

“That’s important in terms of access to justice. It doesn’t make sense to be paying out all that money when we have the technology at our fingertips to send it straight in,” she says.

A survey commissioned by the ministry revealed that almost 20 per cent of claims at the six launch sites were filed using the system, as well as a 90-per-cent satisfaction rate among users.

Mahabir says that while there may be pushback from some corners of the profession, she hopes to see the adoption of technology continue.

“We’re probably the only profession that is still heavily dependent on the fax machine. As a younger lawyer, and someone who’s been raised on technology, I think we have to drive this, and ensure it gets implemented across the board,” she says. “Filing should just be the beginning. Any systems that can be made electronic should be.”

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