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More than twenty-five years ago, it became possible to access government databases using a personal computer and a modem. A Canadian Bar Association National Technology Committee initiative at the time was to secure access to those databases in various jurisdictions. In a letter to Mr. Graeme Garson, then C.E.O. of The Law Society, Mr. Ronald Coke, the member of the CBA national committee for Manitoba, outlined the proof-of-concept activities of his firm regarding such access and suggested several issues for consideration by The Law Society. Quoted from the letter, these issues were:

  • "Appropriate participation in development, in particular to ensure 'fair access' for members of the profession";
  • "'Level of reliance issues' in utilizing the databases";
  • "Longer term considerations such as those relating to possible electronic registration".

Mr. Coke saw that technological change would affect the interaction between the profession and the government, regardless of whether or not the profession was involved in the process. In his letter, he recommended the formation of a Law Society of Manitoba database committee, which subsequently recommended the creation of LDRC as an answer to the issues confronting the profession. Beginning in 1989, the corporation was able to offer access to the Land Titles, Personal Property and Corporate Registries as well as the Statutes of Manitoba (CCSM) and the Hansards of the Legislature.  Those databases were augmented significantly in later years and databases of the City of Winnipeg were added.


LDRC continues to work on behalf of the profession to ensure that the new or altered systems proposed by government respond to the same issues initially presented to the profession more than two decades ago. The principles of equality of access to prevailing technology and maintenance of standards for all members of the profession are as important now as they were in that original letter.


Databases have been added and removed by the province and the city over the years and changes in access methods and functionality are now being proposed -- the Electronic Courts Transcript Project changed the face of the courtroom a number of years ago and continues to have an impact. LDRC has recently made a substantial commitment by acquiring and setting up an Entrust Certificate Authority which allows for LDRC, in conjunction with the Law Society of Manitoba, to issue proper digital signatures (and encryption) to lawyers and others to authoritatively identify the sender of an e-mail and provide true security for documents and communications. Based on that digital signature and encryption initiative, LDRC and its Electronic Courts Committee are currently partnering with the Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba on a Courts e-filing project using digitally signed e-mail and documents, using the Entrust Certificate Authority to ensure the identity of filers and other participants.