SLAW | “Trial by Zoom”: What Virtual Hearings Might Mean for Open Courts, Participant Privacy and the Integrity of Court Proceedings

Amy Salyzyn -  ACT researcher - writes in this article published on the website Slaw - a Canadian legal blog - about how the pandemic has disrupted the functioning of the judicial system. She paints the picture of how a virtual courts should be, emphasizing the need to provide more transparency, including more access to virtual hearings and greater protection of the privacy of litigants.

It’s not business as usual in Canadian courts. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended court operations, just as it has upended every other aspect of daily life. One response to the need to ensure physical distancing has been to move in-person court hearings to virtual formats. Beyond the utility of virtual hearings as short term emergency measures, there is reason to believe that this moment may well mark the start of a shift toward increased use of virtual hearings in the longer term. In discussing the impact of COVID-19 on courts, the Chief Justice of the Ontario Superior Court has stated, “we have been forced and the Ministry has been forced to accelerate its plans to move to electronic hearings and also to electronic filings and we cannot go back….it is time for Ontario to push forward…we cannot go backwards.”

By Amy Sayzyn, Slaw

This content has been updated on 20 April 2020 at 14 h 36 min.