Are Canadian Courts Adapting With New Technologies?

The cornerstone of any free society is a thriving court system which takes the approach to justice very seriously. For a court system to truly serve its constituents it has to keep up with the technology and the Canadian legal system is no exception.

Fortunately, the modern technological advances that have been woven into the Canadian courts have proven to not only be cost effective but also to serve the greater good.

I see you!

There is a practical aspect of adapting technology to court use and that has to do with geography. Beyond our vibrant urban cities, Canada is a vast land of abundant resources and environments. The current population stands at 30 million + but we are scattered all across the Canadian landscape. As such, it’s not uncommon for a judge to be issuing rulings 1,500 miles from the main courthouse. This is where video conferencing has made a huge difference in terms of expediting court cases.

With video conferencing, a judge can review, cross examine and make a ruling on an applicant who might be several miles away. By adapting video conferencing there is also a great reduction in the need for prisoner escort costs. In some cases, a video conference is a benefit when a hardened criminal can remain incarcerated without the chance of getting contraband passed to them outside the confines of the jail. This is definitely a case where swift justice can prevail.

Shuffling papers…

Another positive use of technology is with case management, especially the large amounts of paperwork to manage. New software and systems have been created that allow documents to be created, edited and stored virtually on secure servers. It allows court clerks instant access to case files and removes redundant data entry.

As with the video conferencing, upgrading to a case-management system for certain court documents is a cost saver not only on paper but also physical storage space. The caution is to insure that these documents are secure. Safeguards need to be put into place to make sure only designated court personnel would have access to these types of records. By the same token, these files have to be properly updated to insure that an innocent party has their record expunged.

Efficiency is the key

During the actual trial, technology can play a role when it comes to evidence presentation. A power point presentation is easy to compile and understand. It’s also helpful when it comes to reviewing that evidence if it is kept on a single file as opposed to scattered over dozens of charts and placards. Many courts have upgraded old transcript recording to new digital recording methods. Once again technology proves to streamline a process while reducing costs.

Clearly, the Canadian courts are putting technology to work. The question then becomes how dominant will that technology become and will there be safeguards to protect privacy? Ironically, the answer to that will be decided by the courts.

Legal Translation Condensed

Legal matters can be a minefield in any circumstances and accuracy is paramount. It goes without saying therefore that legal translation requires diligence and absolute adherence to detail. Remember, when you are dealing with legal translation you are interacting within a two way system with differing legal systems.

When considering legal translation it is essential to fully understand the legal system of the target language. This means you don’t just need a basic knowledge of the legal system, you must ensure that you have an understanding of the history that forms the basis for the current legal regulations of the law relating to the target language and, indeed, the legal language itself.

Before embarking on the legal translation of documentation, contracts etc in your language, if you don’t have an academic knowledge of the law yourself, you must ensure to engage the services of a legal expert to unravel intricacies of the finer detail in your own language and in that of the target language.

One of the most difficult areas is posed by the translation of a legal term which does not exist in your target language. This is particularly important where your legal expert comes in if you don’t have that expertise yourself. If you are of the view that legal in itself is a straightforward task and overlook the finer details as mentioned above with specific legal terms, then you could end up losing money and possibly cause damage to your business. It is always important to lay your cost out with this in mind before undertaking the legal translation. Rather than to try to find an appropriate term to adapt to your language from your source language it is better to break down the specifics and reach a solution by way of creative explanation that fits yours and the target language expectations and understanding.

It is crucial to bear in mind throughout the process of legal that any mistranslation or misunderstanding no matter how minor, of a legal document can have disastrous consequences upon your business. It is therefore prudent to ensure that you have the necessary legal available in both the source language and the target language and to make sure of good proof reading before documents, contracts, certificates etc are sent out.

Legal Management and Problem Solving

Problem solving is one of the most essential skills of a manager of a legal department. Both the service of legal firefighting and preventing this fire are of high value to the internal clients.

Regardless of what your problem is, you will face obstacles. How you deal with such challenges will often be a determining factor in how successful you are in solving the problem. While problems come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, it is very import to use simple legal process management tools to find the solutions.

With systematic approach you will bring logic to arrive at a solution. To solve virtually any problem, you can use a process of elimination – dividing the problem down until all you have left is the cause of the problem.

The objective in this “root cause problem solving” is to discover the points of leverage where patterns of behavior originate and can be changed. The challenge lies in being able to distinguish between problem symptoms and problem causes.

Legal problem symptoms
What people traditionally call problems are frequently only symptoms of problems. For example, the problem of a claim is really a symptom of whatever caused the damage, which is the real dilemma. Defining a problem in terms of its symptoms obscures the real cause and leads to symptomatic solutions that fail to correct the basic condition.

Legal problem causes
Problems are undesired results caused by structural relationships among system components. When these relationships are complex and hidden, traditional problem solving is not effective and another technique is needed. Root cause problem solving consists of discovering and correcting these structural relationships. This process is called leverage and requires a legal process management approach to identify the system dynamics creating these outcomes.

Differentiating between problem symptoms and problem causes
Problem symptoms and problem causes can look very much alike. For example the cause of a dispute with a supplier over a service could be identified as a quality problem, or a material procurement problem, yet all of these could be symptoms of a communication problem. The following process will help identify fundamental problem causes.

You can use the “multiple why” process to identify the causes underlying the problem. This process is an adaptation of a Japanese quality technique. It consists of continually asking “why is this occurring?” to each explanation and subsequent explanations until a common cause is identified. You need to continue this “multiple why” process until a fundamental or root cause is apparent. Structural relationships are identified when the explanation changes from one system component to another.

A simplified root cause problem solving process

Select the most significant problem symptom and ask, “Why is this occurring?” Describe the symptom using all the specific facts and data available. This will enable a more focused examination of the conditions needing correction and a more precise definition of the problem. Record all of the explanations.

  • Repeat this questioning for each explanation.
  • Record and compile all additional explanations.
  • Identify any emerging patterns.

Continue this process until these explanations converge into some fundamental causes.

  • Avoid fixation on events or on blaming individuals.
  • Focus on systemic explanations.

Define the problem or problems by describing the root causes creating them.

  • Accurate problem definition is critical for the development of meaningful solutions
  • Identify the system structural relationships that are creating the conditions that need correcting.

Determine the action or actions needed to change the system relationships creating the problem or problems.