The new Senior Courts Civil Electronic Document Protocol 2019 comes into effect on 1 March, revoking and replacing a protocol issued on 22 May 2017.
The protocol is a guideline to be used by counsel and the senior courts. It is intended to encourage and facilitate the use of electronic casebooks for civil cases in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
The protocol is not intended to effect any change to the requirements of the High Court Rules, the Court of Appeal (Civil) Rules 2005 or the Supreme Court Rules 2004. However, it states that each court may, by practice note, modify the requirements relating to the number of hard copies of documents that must be filed in the event that a document is filed in compliant electronic format.
The revised protocol is the outcome of a review which was carried out during 2018 by a committee of Bronwyn McKinlay, Phil Cornege, Allison Ferguson, Julian Long and Josh McBride. This included feedback from the legal profession.
In a letter to New Zealand Law Society President Kathryn Beck, Justice Miller of the Court of Appeal says the committee introduced innovations to simplify the construction and use of e-casebooks.
"The architecture has been altered. The protocol now uses a single folder, although the table of contents is divided into volumes so that anyone using a paper version can print and bind the casebook," he says.
"The numbering system is new. With familiarity users will be able to associate number series with document types, and automated hyperlinking should be more straightforward. It should also be easier to adapt a trial court bundle for appellate use."
Justice Miller says the protocol is a very important tool.
"E-casebooks make possible real efficiencies in hearing preparation and in use of court time. The protocol establishes a standard methodology which allows e-casebooks to become business as usual in trial and appellate courts. We are indebted to the committee for their work on it."
He says the protocol should be used for casebooks prepared from now on.