I acted for a time for national collection agency, which gave me a lot of insight into how civil cases are filed and processed in the various Canadian provinces and territories. It was a real eye-opener to discover how primitive and old-fashioned the filing procedures are in most Canadian jurisdictions. Court filings are, for the most part, paper-based, and usually have to be filed in person, by sending someone down to the courthouse to stand in line.
BC is an exception, having somewhat embraced the modern era with the ability to file court documents online, as well as permitting access to Court Registry files via the Internet. After a few months of wrestling with antiquated systems in other provinces I came to thank my lucky stars that I practiced in such an enlightened jurisdiction, where cutting-edge technology made my job so much easier.
Any illusion I had about being in the vanguard of the march to embrace technology in the practice of law was however shattered last week, when I learned of the technology initiatives now being implemented in Nigeria.
The entire Nigerian court system is now becoming completely paperless. All communication with the court must be done via email, and court filings can only be made via the Internet. All participants in the justice system including lawyers and judges are being issued with secure “legal email” accounts, and the courts themselves are deploying Case management software to further modernize the process. The Nigerian justice system henceforth is no longer in the paper storage business.
It is an impressive undertaking and one which leapfrog’s the Nigerian court system well ahead of British Columbia’s. We would do well not to become too complacent with the baby steps that we in BC have taken to modernize our court processes. Indeed we ought to be a bit sheepish that we are not keeping up with the Third World.
Oh, and if you do get an email from a Nigerian lawyer in the future, it just might not be a scam after all!