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The Cyber justice Laboratory. Technology & Procedural Evidentiary Law. Unidroit, Rome, May 12th, 2008. Presentation outline. Cyberjustice Justice’s ills The Cyberjustice Laboratory’s Objectives Method. Cyberjustice. The Normative Effects of Technological Architectures. Cyberjustice.

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the cyber justice laboratory

The Cyberjustice Laboratory



Procedural Evidentiary Law

Unidroit, Rome, May 12th, 2008

presentation outline
Presentation outline
  • Cyberjustice
  • Justice’s ills
  • The Cyberjustice Laboratory’s Objectives
  • Method


The Normative Effects of Technological Architectures


The term “cyberjustice” refers to the integration of information and communication technologies to dispute resolution processes – whether they be judicial or extrajudicial.

The term “cyberjustice” refers to the integration of information and communication technologies to dispute resolution processes – whether they be judicial or extrajudicial.

In its broadest sense, cyberjustice implies the networking of all stakeholders in the informational chain for judicial cases.

This is what is referred to as an Integrated Justice Information System.


There are instances in which the invention, design, or arrangement of a specific technical device or system becomes a way of settling an issue in the affairs of a particular society.

Langdon WINNER, The Whale and the Reactor, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1986, p. 22.

As technologies are being built and put to use, significant alterations in patterns of human activity and human institutions are already taking place.

Langdon WINNER, The Whale and the Reactor, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1986, p. 11.


[TRANSLATION] “public consciousness has yet to acknowledge the fact that all technology is associated with a particular ideology […] Not realizing that technology is charged with a program for social change, maintaining that technology is neutral […] is simply stupid”. (N. POSTMAN, Se distraire à en mourir, Flammarion, 1986, p. 209)

[TRANSLATION] “We all too often consider information as a thing and computer science as a neutral support, but with higher capabilities. Truth be told, machine processed information has certain specificities such as the non-ambivalence of languages […]” (A. VITALIS, Informatique, pouvoir et libertés, Economica, 1988, p. 206)

justice s ills

Justice’s Ills

Taking on the Justice System’s Inefficiencies


Our traditional justice system is going through a period of crisis. Citizens are losing faith1 in the judicial process, which is having serious repercussions on its use. In British-Columbia, for example, the number of cases brought before the courts is half of what it was 10 years ago2. In Quebec, only about 25 000 files were set for trial before theCour du Québec in 2005, a drop of more than 10 000 files (almost 25%) since ‘963.

1 T. CHOUINARD, “Crise de confiance de la population à l’égard de la justice”, Le Devoir, June 4th 2004.

2 B.M. YOUNG, Change in Legal Culture: Barriers and New Opportunities.

3 COUR DU QUÉBEC, Rapport public 2005-2006, p. 15.

identifiable causes
Identifiable causes…
  • A system based primarily on the use of paper and the physical presence of all parties;
  • Court cases are getting longer, more expensive, and more complex;
  • The current system impedes the circulation of criminal justice information among various stakeholders;
  • Mostly unjustified adversarial concepts;
  • Lawyers hold a possibly unwarranted monopoly on justice.
which have been identified for years
… which have been identified for years

In the XIVth century, the excessive costs and long delays associated with the justice system were already being criticized:

Philippe de Mézières, preceptor to Charles VI (who reigned from 1380 to 1422), denounced the professionnalization of justice which killed its very spirit: “autrefois si naturel en France que régler les querelles ne supposait ni longs débats ni formes compliquées” (J. KRYNEN, L’empire du roi, Paris, Gallimard, 1993, p. 264) :

“Bien devroient les François regrecter, et non sans laermes (…) les bons temps d’orez du royaume de France, quand les advocaz vivoient simplement de leur patrimonie ou labeur, sans escorcher les gens (…) Lors les vaillans hommes et preudommes advocaz donnoient conseil aux juges d’abregier les querelles et avoeint abhominacion de toutes gaulces cautelles et longues escriptures”. (Philippe de Méxières, Le Songe du vieil pèlerin, 1389, Cambridge, G.W. Coopland, 2 vol., Tome 1, p. 457-507, as quoted by Krynen, supra).


“Au XVe siècle, Jean Juvénal des Ursins, archevêque de Reims, adresse à Charles VII de longues remontrances.

Il se plaint d’une justice trop coûteuse, trop longue et embrouillée; même au parlement, on l’avait dit en 1413 : « les causes sont comme immortelles” (J. KRYNEN, L’empire du roi, Paris, Gallimard, 1993, p. 267).


Access to justice and public security can and should profit from the opportunities created by the introduction of information and communication technologies (ICT)…

the cyberjustice laboratory s objectives

The Cyberjustice Laboratory’s Objectives

Rethinking the Judicial Process

a unique research facility
A technologically advanced courtroom

Electronic workstations


Touch screens

Digital cameras

Holographic projections

Virtual reality

A research laboratory for the development of judicial software

A unique research facility…

Two main objectives to the project:

Socio-judicial Objective

Techno-judicial Objective


  • Identify obstacles to the networking (and computerization) of the justice system (sociological, psychological, historical, judicial, etc.);
  • Create innovative networking models while taking into account the particularities of both the judicial and cultural contexts.
  • Develop software modules for the judicial process in collaboration with its main actors;
  • Take advantage of these developments to put forth new process models (procedure and evidence).


Techno-judicial objective

Socio-judicial objective





Area 1:

Develop software modules to serve procedural justice

Area 2:

Use technology to make procedure more efficient

Area 3:

Identify obstacles to the networking of the justice system

Area 4:

Create new networking models

Areas of research

a place where ideas can be tested and exchanged between
A place where ideas can be tested and exchanged between…
  • Canadian as well as foreign Ministries of Justice
  • Judges
  • Lawyers and barristers
  • Court administrators
  • Researchers
an environment to
An environment to…
  • Evaluate, adapt and upgrade technologies developed for the court system;
  • Optimize the legal process through the networking of its main stakeholders;
  • Allow interveners to take part in the development of software aimed at:
    • Increasing access to the courts;
    • Accelerating the legal process;
    • Lightening courtroom caseloads;
    • Making life easier for lawyers, judges and court clerks…
rethinking procedure 1 of 2
Rethinking procedure… (1 of 2)

[TRANSLATION] ”The Code of Civil Procedure has gone through numerous modifications since its creation, but the philosophy on which it was founded has yet to evolve“ (Me Hubert Reid)

  • Reevaluate the rituals underlying the judicial process;
  • Eliminate obsolete norms;
  • Adopt new rituals better suited to the contemporary realities of the practice of law and to citizens’ expectations.
rethinking procedure 2 of 2
Rethinking procedure… (2 of 2)
  • Through the creation of an international network
    • Allows us to learn from the mistakes and successes of other jurisdictions;
    • Allows the development of more uniform international processes, which has become necessary in our highly globalized society…


A Collaborative, Progressive and Modular Approach

developing a new outlook on our relationship with justice
Developing a new outlook on our relationship with Justice
  • Develop a methodology for risk assessment with regards to cyberjustice systems;
  • Adopt and implement more efficient strategies to facilitate interactions with the different components of the judicial process;
  • Reestablish the balance between law and Justice…

In order to do so, we must take advantage of technological solutions and develop software which responds the expressed and identified needs of the judicial process’ different stakeholders…

through a collaborative approach
…through a collaborative approach
  • Favor dialog and consultations;
  • Allow the evaluation an upgrade of technologies through simulation;
  • Make source code freely available in order to benefit from the expertise of foreign experts…
through a progressive approach
…through a progressive approach
  • Learning curve to allow users to master the basics of a given system before offering more advanced options;
  • Constant updates to software in order to better suit users’ needs and respond to user comments and reactions…
through a modular approach
…through a modular approach

Securitized networks for lawyers


Electronic signatures

Long-distance oaths

Electronically managed calendars

Motion-drafting software


Interactive schedules

Electronic file management

Holographic testimonies

Virtual crime scene reproductions

Long-distance hearings

Decision-drafting software


www crdp umontreal ca

Thank you!

Karim Benyekhlef Professor Director of the Centre de recherche en droit public Faculté de droit Université de Montréal P.O. Box 6128, Downtown Stn Montreal (Quebec) CANADA H3C 3J7 Tel. : (1) 514-343-7451 Fax : (1) 514-343-7508