Professor Karen Eltis wins prestigious Mundell Medal for excellence in legal writing

Faculty of Law - Civil Law Section
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By Civil law

Communication, Faculty of law

Karen Eltis, Mundell Medal
The impact of new technologies on constitutional rights and democracy is one of the most critical and complex frontiers in contemporary legal discourse. In recognition of her research and writing on the legal, ethical, and social issues at the intersection of law and the digital realm, Professor Karen Eltis has been awarded the 2023 David Walter Mundell Medal.

The Mundell Medal is given out annually by the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario to recognize a legal writer who has made a distinguished contribution to the law. In keeping with the spirit of the award, Professor Eltis has endeavored to move the law forward, mindful of the impact of the Internet on the justice system and democratic governance. In the disruptive digital age, the foremost challenge relates to “seeing around” the proverbial corner, mindfully applying the countless benefits of technology, while avoiding its unintended consequences. As a bilingual jurist trained and working in both civil law and common law traditions, Professor Eltis is able to approach these issues from a comparative angle, drawing on perspectives from both of Canada’s legal systems, as well as ideas from other parts of the world. She has harnessed this comparative approach to develop innovative areas of legal inquiry that ultimately serve to educate courts, lawyers, litigants and the general public about the legal, social and ethical issues that accompany the use of technology.

For example, In 2012, Professor Eltis published Courts, Litigants, and the Digital Age (Irwin Law), the first scholarly study of the impact of the Internet and new technologies on courts, litigants and judicial ethics. Now in its second edition, the book remains the only scientific work in the field that addresses complex and pressing issues such as the proper judicial use of Internet sources and how to control the use of new technologies in the courtroom. More recently, Professor Eltis authored both French and English versions of a book chapter on artificial intelligence and the judiciary entitled “Judicial Independence and the Corporate ‘Custodians’ of Digital Tools : A Call to Scrutinize Reliance on Private Platforms as ‘Essential Infrastructure’ | L’indépendence judiciaire et les entreprises dépositaires d’outils numériques: un appel à examiner la dépendance à l’égard des plateformes privées comme des « infrastructures essentielles »”. Here Professor Eltis takes stock of the threats to judicial independence that must necessarily accompany a newfound dependence on digital technology. This chapter appeared in the widely-praised book from Céline Castets-Renard and Jessica Eynard, entitled Un droit de l’intelligence artificielle : entre règles sectorielles et régime général : Perspectives de droit comparé (Bruylant, 2023) as well as the English version of the book, Artificial Intelligence Law: Between Sectoral Rules and Comprehensive Regime (Larcier, 2023).

The Mundell Medal was inaugurated by the late Ontario Attorney General Ian Scott, who intended it to be “a kind of Pulitzer Prize for legal writing.”  The medal is named to honour the memory of the late David W. Mundell, a renowned constitutional lawyer and a pre-eminent member of the staff of the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario. This year`s Selection Committee was chaired by the Honourable Eileen Gillese, a justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

“I congratulate Professor Eltis for her pioneering work examining the impact of technology on the justice system,” said Justice Gillese. “Professor Eltis’ innovative writing gives us a valuable lens through which to examine the challenges facing the justice system in the digital age, including balancing openness, access to justice and privacy. That Professor Eltis writes and works in both English and French, and in both civil and common law traditions, enriches the impact of her contribution.”

Read the full press release from the office of the Attorney General of Ontario.

Other Faculty of Law members who have won the Mundell Medal include Carissima Mathen (2022), Martha Jackman (2018), Adam Dodek (2017), Sébastien Grammond (2016), Elizabeth Sheehy (2014) and Constance Backhouse (2010).

Congratulations to Professor Eltis!