The crisis, a wake up call for justice

First trial fully virtual, application call online, secure payment system : the crisis of the COVID-19 has forced the justice system to quickly adopt new digital tools that will remain in place after the crisis, says the minister of Justice Sonia Lebel.

For Ms. Lebel, the closure of courtrooms during the confinement will accelerate the adoption of the proposed Lexius (see below), launched two years ago with the goal of eliminating the mountains of documents that transform our palace of justice in “house paper”.

“The transformation, this is not just the technology, it is also about changing mindsets,” says the minister in an interview with our parliamentary Bureau. “The need created by the crisis has given the “boost” necessary fact that all actors in the system are put into solution mode”, she noted.

At the end of march, the first lawsuit entirely virtual place in a folder of child care in Trois-Rivières. Judge, lawyers, witnesses and stakeholders are involved at a distance. Since then, the trial through video conferencing is increasing in Quebec.

In the same way, the health crisis has forced the department to put in place a registry of digital for the Court of appeal of Quebec, in addition to allowing the payment of court costs in line.

Stop Jordan

“We’re going to get out of the crisis, with improvements that will remain,” says Sonia Lebel.

After all, the restrictions related to the COVID-19 may remain in place as yet “some time” and the justice system cannot continue to accumulate inventories of files not processed.

Ultimately, the digitisation of justice will also better meet the deadlines imposed by the judgment in Jordan, ” says Lebel. For example, lawyers in remote areas will no longer have to lose a day to come and drop their folders. The prosecutors, themselves, will be able to resolve virtually issues of schedules with the court without devoting a half-day on-site.

But the virtual tools have their limits. “The jury trial, it is not rendered here, and it may not be the most suitable,” says the minister.

Before the confinement, the actors were “already around the table,” says Ms. Lebel, but each had his fears, each one had its challenges.” “The crisis has had the positive effect of mobilizing the people because it was a matter of immediate necessity,” she says.

The proposed Lexius

  • Wide digital transformation plan of the justice system.
  • Aims the sharing of information between all the actors of the network : police, courts, ministry, citizens.
  • First step : establishment of a digital file by 2022.
  • The project will run until 2025.
  • Total cost : $289 Million out of a total of $500 Million invested to modernize the justice.
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