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In March of 2007, the SCC’s Office of the Registrar published the results of its first ever online client satisfaction survey. Looming large within the administrative background of every application, motion, appeal and decision, the SCC’s Registry Branch acts as the central gatekeeper and traffic manager of filed documentation at the Supreme Court. As such, its role is pivotal to the effective and efficient administration of justice in Canada’s highest court.
Despite claims that this survey represented a true “benchmark” with which to “track performance over time” these results slipped by without much comment. Now that a year has passed, and we should ostensibly be anticipating an update, it behooves us to take a brief look at these results.
With the assistance of an Ottawa-based consulting firm, 299 counsel, agents and self-represented litigants who had appeared before the SCC in 2006 were invited to participate in the online survey. The response rate to the survey was 60%. The information gathered tells us a great deal about the nature and quality of the service provided. It also tells us where efforts at improvement are clearly needed. Consider the following findings:
Information related to appeals was the most frequently accessed service by respondents (93%), followed by information related to applications for leave to appeal (85%), information about SCC decisions (61%), information about motions (55%) and access to documents from the Court Records Office (30%);
Nearly all respondents (97%) were satisfied or very satisfied with the in-person counter service provided by the Registry Branch. The most commonly cited use for such services was to sign-in for hearings (88%). This was followed by filing documents (26%), consulting documents (15%) and requesting CPAC videos (15%);
Over 90% of respondents agreed that upon requesting information from the Courts Record Office, the request was completed in a timely and appropriate fashion;
Overall, 75% of respondents stated that they were “very satisfied” with the service that they received from the Registry Branch;
However, 20% of respondents felt that the SCC rules relating to applications for leave to appeal were not sufficiently clear. A similar percentage of respondents felt the same way regarding the rules relating to appeals and the guidelines for preparing electronic factums;
Finally, whereas respondents agreed that they could rely on information posted on the SCC website, many suggested a need for more detailed and up-to-date case information (including factums), as well as better website search capabilities and live video feeds.
Ultimately, the above statistics indicate that although clients are largely satisfied with the service provided to them, there is nonetheless significant room for improvement in clarifying the rules relating to a number of the Registry Branch’s key service areas. Providing clearer and more complete rules regarding the filing of applications, appeals and factums will no doubt foster a more “user friendly” environment. And, although I won’t hold my breath, live video feeds would be nice too.