Digital Court Records: A Diversity of Uses

Abstract

This article addresses the topic of digital court records, focusing on their uses. Our empirical research on access to dockets in Quebec revealed an important diversity of uses that we present and discuss in this paper. The original function of court records is to leave an official trace of courts activities, in respect of the public character of justice and the principle of accountability of public institutions. However, our study identified many practical objects of digital dockets. There are used in judicial contexts, as a summary presenting all the steps of a case, but also in other professional or private contexts, to conduct a background check, for instance. This article presents the various situations where digital dockets are resorted to, revealing an important diversity of uses. In a perspective of access to justice, we discuss the role of digitization in this diversity, focusing on two important issues. The first one is the question of access to digital dockets by self-represented litigants. In this framework, we discuss the progress brought by digitization. The second issue is related to the sensitive character of the information contained in dockets. It raises privacy questions that we address, as well as a deep reflection on digital access.

Ce contenu a été mis à jour le 29 avril 2020 à 19 h 15 min.