News release

Work Underway to Transform the Courts

Nova Scotians who use the court system have benefited from technological changes introduced during the pandemic. Now a new task force will explore more ways to use technology to improve access to justice, increase efficiencies and create better outcomes.

The Department of Justice and the Nova Scotia judiciary are leading a task force that will create a road map to digitally transform the courts of Nova Scotia.

“The response to COVID-19 has highlighted ways to better use technology to update court services and improve access to justice for our citizens,” said Mark Furey, Minister of Justice and Attorney General. “This work will build on changes that have already been implemented in our courts and create opportunities for future innovation.”

The task force is co-chaired by Michael J. Wood, Chief Justice of Nova Scotia, and Candace L. Thomas, deputy minister of Justice and deputy attorney general. Other members are:

  • Associate Chief Justice Patrick J. Duncan, Supreme Court (general division)
  • Associate Chief Justice Lawrence I. O’Neil, Supreme Court (family division)
  • Chief Judge Pamela S. Williams, Provincial and Family Courts of Nova Scotia
  • Lora MacEachern, associate deputy minister, Department of Justice
  • Natasha Clarke, associate deputy minister and chief digital officer, Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services
  • lawyer Agnes E. MacNeil
  • lawyer Paul Saunders
  • lawyer Anna Manley

The task force will be supported by an independent digital consultant who will assess the needs of court users and identify opportunities for modernization.

Quotes:

The pandemic has highlighted the urgency to modernize the courts in this country. With that came the push to start thinking and working differently. We now have a unique opportunity to capitalize on the changes already underway and collaborate through the task force on a clear vision for the digital transformation of the Nova Scotia courts. Michael J. Wood, digital transformation task force co-chair, Chief Justice of Nova Scotia

It is important that our court system is responsive to the needs of its users. Transitioning the courts from a paper-based to a digital system will require leadership and vision from those with expertise in justice, technology and change management, which we clearly have in the individuals represented on this task force. Candace L. Thomas, digital transformation task force co-chair, deputy minister of Justice and deputy attorney general.

The courts are a public institution and with that comes an expectation that the services we provide will be accessible, effective and efficient. In leading this task force alongside the judiciary, the province is acknowledging that modern courts are a priority for our citizens. I look forward to seeing the results of this important work. Chief Justice Deborah K. Smith, Supreme Court of Nova Scotia

When the pandemic struck, the provincial court worked with the Department of Justice, lawyers, law enforcement and other groups involved in the justice system to make changes we previously thought weren’t possible. It was incredible to see the achievements made in areas like electronic disclosure, electronic filing of documents and virtual court. This momentum will help the task force bring the provincial court into the 21st century. Chief Judge Pamela S. Williams, Provincial and Family Courts of Nova Scotia

Quick Facts:

  • increased use of technology continues to support the work of the courts during COVID-19, including the delivery of virtual court options, now available for many appeal, civil, criminal and family matters
  • virtual court, including remote appearances by telephone, video and other online platforms, has allowed courts to hear more matters during the pandemic, particularly when physical distancing and other public heath directives discouraged in-person appearances
  • technology has been updated in some courtrooms, including sound and digital evidence presentation systems

Additional Resources:

The Courts of Nova Scotia: https://www.courts.ns.ca/

-30-

Media Contacts:

Heather Fairbairn
Department of Justice Cell: 902-717-2151 Email:
Jennifer Stairs
Nova Scotia Judiciary Cell: 902-221-5257 Email: