Tips for organizing your court documents

Provincial Court

When you’re in court, you need to be able to find the documents related to your case (for example, forms, letters, and other supporting evidence) when you need them. You might have only a few documents or you might have many of them.

If you’re attending court in person, take a printed copy of all your documents with you, organized so you can quickly find what you need.

If you’re attending court online, such as on Microsoft Teams, you can have printed documents, digital documents, or a combination of the two.

Printed copies

Organize printed copies of your documents in a way that makes sense to you. For example, you can organize them by category, such as:

  • Application or Response form, or other formal written statement of your side of the case
  • Affidavits and attachments
  • Financial statements
  • Original documents (income tax returns, notices of assessment, pay stubs)

If you have several documents in each category, organize them by date, from oldest to newest. 

If you have a lot of documents, you might want to put them in a binder, with a tab for each category. For more information about making a trial book, see Preparing to attend a Provincial Court trial.

Digital copies

If you’re comfortable managing files on your computer, tablet, or phone, you might want to use digital files instead of printed ones. All computers and most mobile devices have a file management application built in (such as File Explorer on Windows or Finder on a Mac). Some mobile apps can help you organize information, too.

How you organize your files depends on what kind of device you use and what the device can actually do. Follow these basic principles, whatever device or software you’re using:

Use folders and subfolders

Store all your court documents in one folder on your computer, a flash drive, or other device. You can also have subfolders within that folder, one for each category like the tabs in a binder. When you're attending court online, you can have the main folder open and open each file as you need it.

Use consistent names

It’s easy to rename an electronic file so it’s obvious what it is and it’s easy to find. Use the same naming approach for all your files, such as [document type] [document number (if needed)] [date]. This helps you know what a document is without having to open it, and it groups similar documents together by name. For example:

  • Affidavit 1 2020-07-15
  • Affidavit 2 2020-07-15
  • Affidavit 3 2020-10-02
  • Bank statement 2020-09-15
  • Bank statement 2020-10-15
  • Bank statement 2020-11-15
  • Financial Statement 2020-10-01
  • Pay stub Year to Date 2020-11-01
Use the YYYY-MM-DD date format so that documents with similar names will appear in date order when the document list is sorted alphabetically. If the dates were written out as “September 15, 2020” and so on, the bank statements in the list above would appear in alphabetical order—November, October, September—rather than in date order.
You can add more information to the file name if you need to. For example, if you have the same kind of document for more than one person, you can add their initials or name to the file name.

Have a backup copy

When you've organized all your files, make a backup copy of everything in case your device is lost or damaged. You can back up to the cloud, a flash drive, or anywhere you’ll be able to get to your documents quickly.

Organize early and reduce your stress

Going to court can be stressful, so try to make it easier on yourself. If you organize your documents well before your court date, you won't be frantically looking for them when your hearing is starting or in progress.