BELIZE CITY, Mon. Apr. 26, 2021– The courts of Belize continue to undergo massive changes due to the introduction of online platforms that will impact the way proceedings are conducted at the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. Preceding the launch of a virtual filing system, the courts have updated their court rules accordingly.
The SUPREME COURT OF JUDICATURE (SUPREME COURT) (AMENDMENT) RULES, 2021 stipulates that all documents that were previously managed manually will continue to be managed manually; however, all subsequent files must be managed at the https://efiling.courts.bz/ link.
Parties who have not yet registered to use the system must use the link to access an online page where they can create an account, and their registration submission will be reviewed and verified before being approved.
Prior to any submission, parties must ensure that the correct documents, with proper headings, are being submitted. Online submissions must be pdf files, not exceeding 75 megabytes.
In addition, each document must be filed separately to improve readability and accessibility. The main file must be submitted first, and the supplemental volumes should follow to allow for the proper filing fee.
Due to the ease of accessibility that electronic file systems offer, documents can now be filed outside of the courts’ normal working hours. However, documents filed outside of the regular hours must be accompanied by a certificate of urgency and pre-approved by the Registrar via telephone.
At the virtual launch of the filing system, Hon. Chief Justice Michelle Arana said, “Before this system was implemented, persons submitting documents to the court would have had to manually photocopy and bring physical copies to the court. The court would then have to verify and stamp each page, an expensive and time-consuming process. Now, litigants can submit case files electronically.”
This paradigm shift will allow for improved lawyer efficiency, due to its ease of use; greater transparency, for lawyers will be able to track cases in real-time; and reduced cost, for there will no longer be a need to unnecessarily photocopy documents.
The Attorney General, Hon. Magali Marin-Young, through whose office this motion was signed, also praised the introduction of the online filing system. “With this new technology, litigants and attorneys will be able to file court papers digitally, using their laptops and even their phones, eliminating the physical presence at the registry. Online payment is still not available, but we are surely working on this,” she said.
This advancement places Belize at the forefront of the digital transformation of the courts in the Caribbean.