APRIL 19 IN-PERSON: Family Lawyers Return

The days of purely digital court procedures for the family law process are coming to a close.

On April 19th, at the presiding judge's discretion, family lawyers will be expected to meet face-to-face for case conferences, motions, settlement conferences and trials.

If settlement isn't required, cases will be conducted online, or through a hybrid approach where some of the meetings are face-to-face and the others remain digital.

The electronic filing system CaseLines will remain in use for admin hearings such as first appearances or other procedure-based processes.

For the past century, it's been expected that members of society ought to walk into court if they are to settle a serious dispute--it's been a tradition since the dawning days of all civilizations--at least, not those so afflicted with digitization that we see today.

While it might be comfy to settle legal issues online, the visceral ornate decorum of a courtroom is likely to resolve disputes faster. According to popular sentiment among jurists presiding over the Superior Court of Justice, these are the guidelines.

Those who have a contrary opinion would point to the one obvious advantage of digital court proceedings: it's too slow to rely on physical in-person meetings compared to the ease at which people can log in online and have webcam sessions. Another issue is the expense, especially for rural people or those who are far away from a courtroom.

The return to in-court proceedings has a lot of opponents who point to obvious procedural inefficiencies. The time it takes to actually arrive at a court room and arrange everything so it happens in person, as opposed to online, is measurably weighed in favour of doing things online. But that very onerous nature of showing up in person could also be a deterrent from actually using the court to resolve conflict as opposed to settlement.

Despite the advantages of divorce-by-zoom, it appears that for now, the court has decided that actual interaction in person is more important than the advantages of internet divorce.