This week, the long awaited $7.3 billion Nortel bankruptcy trial began. Among other things, this trial is unique in that it is being undertaken simultaneously in two countries – Toronto and Wilmington, Delaware. This procedural feat will involve dual sets of legal counsel, judges sitting in both cities, and witness testimony from both Toronto and Wilmington.
Technology is facilitating the dual jurisdictional aspect of this trial. The courtrooms in both locations are linked with encrypted live video and audio. Court reporting is enabled in both locations through a collaborative process involving specialized software. Transcripts will be distributed within hours of each day’s proceedings. Counsel on both sides of the border have been provided with secure, private digital chat systems that allow both voice and text messaging. Exhibits are in digital format, and will be displayed on screens in both courtrooms.
Although this type of cross-border, simultaneous trial has never been tried before, the technology involved in making it happen is relatively common in the U.S. Maybe this will set the path so that digital trials can become more common here.