Mr. Wisdom has pointed out how reliant we soon-to-be-lawyers are on technology. I, like him, cannot imagine living without CanLII, electronic library catalogs, and e-laws.
However, there has always been an undercurrent of resistance to technology from the old school bar that somehow – incredibly in my eyes – manages to get by just fine without electronic legal resources. For a long time, printouts of electronic case law and legislation have not been acceptable for use in court.
The general rule was that printouts are unacceptable or at least frowned-upon, especially in Superior Court proceedings, though some leeway was occasionally granted in the interests of expedience.
I am extremely happy today to report that the general rule is changing.
Ontario was the first province to begin publishing its laws online. That happened back in 2001 with the launch of e-laws. That was a progressive move to help make the law more accessible to the public, and indeed, to help keep lawyers up to date on changes that could take time to get published in print.
As of November 30, 2008, the government has gone a step further.
According to a MAG press release, copies of regulations and statutes published on e-laws will now be an official source of law.
Both of the following are official:
- An on-screen display of a statute or regulation viewed on, or downloaded from, the e-Laws website
- A printout of a statute or regulation viewed on, or downloaded from, the e-Laws website.
According to Ontario’s Attorney General, Chris Bentley (a fellow Londoner):
“E-Laws provides Ontarians with easy access to Ontario’s laws. Making e-Laws an official source of law recognizes the reality of today’s modern technological environment. Eliminating our reliance on printed publications not only makes the law more accessible but does so in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way.”
These changes were made pursuant to a new regulation under the Legislation Act, 2006, [S.O. 2006, c. 21, Sch. F].
Ironically, the regulation (presumably under s. 41(1)) is too new to have been published on the E-Laws website just yet. I haven’t been able to find it!