Steps to follow
Electronic trials (eTrials) - civil and criminal
Regardless of what stage a proceeding is at, the parties to a proceeding should consider whether a matter is suited to being conducted as an eTrial. Ideally, this should occur as early in the life of the proceeding as possible, and preferably before disclosure commences.
If the parties agree to disclose electronically using an agreed document management protocol, and the matter does ultimately proceed to trial, it is already likely to be eTrial compliant.
Any party can suggest to the Court that a matter proceed as an eTrial. Again, it is preferable for this to occur before disclosure commences. While each matter is different, generally the judge will consider such a request if there are more than 500 documents relevant to the case, there is a time and cost saving benefit for the parties, the eTrial hardware is available and the parties can produce electronic documents.
If the judge approves a matter to be conducted as an eTrial, the following steps will occur.
1. Pre-trial conference held between all parties
The eTrials Registrar will schedule a pre-trial conference between the parties involved in the proceeding. The presiding judge, their associate may also attend.
The purpose of the meeting is to facilitate the parties in defining the 'agreed bundle' and agreeing on a standard document numbering protocol including document types, document identification standards, sources, authors and recipients. Please refer to Practice Direction 10/2011. 1
2. Scan and number documents
In line with Practice Direction 10/2011, all disclosed documents must be converted to an electronic format and numbered as mullti-page, searchable PDFs as per the agreed document management protocol.
The numbering, which will be confirmed at the pre-trial conference, may be stamped on the first page of each document, or by attaching a label.
Please refer to the eTrial document management spreadsheet (overview).
3. Document management spreadsheet
Parties should download and complete the pre-trial checklist and the eTrial document management spreadsheet including the disclosed document meta-data as per the agreed protocol, e.g. document ID, date, title, author, etc.
Some document management systems will allow parties to export this meta-data from their document management systems as a .csv file or spreadsheet.
All forms and files are to be submitted to the eTrials Registrar at email@example.com.
4. Assess data integrity and finalise bundle
The eTrials Registrar will assess that document naming and numbering is consistent with the agreed document protocol, and will confirm the agreed bundle with the parties. It is the responsibility of parties to rectify any inconsistencies identified by the eTrials Registrar.
5. Burn documents to CD/DVD
Once the eTrials Registrar approves the document numbering and any outstanding issues rectified, parties can burn their bundle to CD or DVD and deliver this to:
Attn: eTrial Registrar
QEll Court of Law Complex
415 George Street
Brisbane Queensland 4000
6. Queensland Courts to upload documents to eCourts portal
Queensland Courts will establish a secure eCourtbook on the eTrials portal, and upload the documents to this site. The courts will then send the legal representative of each party the user name and password for accessing it. The eTrial Registrar will arrange for the parties to receive appropriate and timely training in the use of the eCourtbook.
7. Update eCourts portal during the trial
Once the trial commences, the judge's associate is responsible for the eCourtbook data throughout the life of the trial. Any changes or the uploading of additional documents can be coordinated through the judge's associate.
8. After the trial
The eCourtbook established for the trial will be removed when the judge hands down a decision and any relevant appeal periods expire. If the matter is appealed, the Court of Appeal Registry will normally utilise the site to allow the appeal to be conducted electronically (eAppeal). For more information, please contact the Court of Appeal Registrar on 07 3247 4787.