Electronic trials (eTrials)
Supreme and District Courts - civil and criminal
The Supreme and District Courts building at 415 George Street, Brisbane, has fourteen eTrial capable courtrooms – seven criminal and six in the civil and Court of Appeal courtrooms. In an eTrial, all documentary evidence is submitted as scanned images in fully text-searchable PDF documents. These documents are managed and viewed on-line throughout the trial while all other court processes proceed as usual.
Matters considered suitable to be conducted as an eTrial are those that are document heavy. It is difficult to quantify what number of documents would trigger the need for an eTrial, as fewer documents may be quite long documents individually. Generally, if documents number around 500, an eTrial should be considered as an option.
What are the benefits?
An eTrial streamlines and increases access to the justice system. It also helps legal firms to offer greater value to their clients by providing:
- fast access to fully text-searchable documents in court
- 24-hour real-time access for remote teams to relevant documents before and during a trial
- access during hearings to email and firm systems via Queensland Courts’ Wi-Fi service
- significant reductions in paper handling and photocopying
- compatibility with commercial document management and case preparation systems – enabling the bulk import of documents and related data
- an ability to scale the solution to trial requirements.
Queensland Courts welcomes all feedback from parties previously involved in an eTrial. Feedback should be sent to eTrials@courts.qld.gov.au.
How are the documents managed?
Queensland Courts have developed eCourtbook, a secure web portal for documents relevant to a court hearing. This user-friendly portal allows the judge, counsel and instructing solicitors to share, view and search documents 24 hours a day, prior to and during a trial.
Queensland Courts will establish an eCourtbook portal and provide all infrastructure at no cost to legal parties. Legal firms simply need to list all document details on a spreadsheet and scan documents as fully text searchable, multi-page PDFs, then supply these to the court on a CD/DVD. Before preparing materials in this way practitioners must contact the eTrials Registrar, as far in advance of the hearing as possible, to determine resources availability. Please review the Common questions and Forms accessible from the side bar for more information.
How is an eTrial conducted?
An eTrial is conducted like a paper-based hearing, except that documents are submitted and viewed electronically.
Queensland Courts will provide the necessary monitors for each party in the courtroom and a large monitor to display documents for the public gallery.
Parties are encouraged to bring their own portable devices to allow independent access to the eCourtbook during the hearing. Access to the internet is obtained via the Courts WiFi. To obtain access to the WiFi, please submit an application to obtain a username and password.