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Superior Court Issues Updated Notice to the Profession

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has provided a further Notice to the Profession which is effective today, May 19, 2020.  The main points are:

  • The Court will not resume in-person hearings of any matters until July 6, 2020 at the earliest.  However, it will continue to hear certain matters virtually, and it expects to shortly further expand the scope of matters that will be heard virtually.
  • In civil matters, the Court will consider hearing urgent and time-sensitive motions and applications where immediate and significant financial repercussions may result if there is no judicial hearing, and matters regarding outstanding warrants issued in relation to a Small Claims Court or Superior Court civil proceeding.
  • Some regions of the Court are hearing other matters virtually, such as pre-trial conferences and opposed motions that do not meet the criteria of urgency.
  • Several regions of the Court are hearing motions on consent, in writing.
  • Civil jury selection and jury trials will not recommence until September 2020 at the earliest.  For civil jury matters, each region of the Court will consider how it can best reschedule civil jury trials that were to be heard during the suspension of regular operations.
  • Counsel and parties are expected to comply with existing orders and rules of procedure to bring cases closer to resolution, to the extent they can safely do so through virtual means.
  • Where it is possible, through virtual means, to comply with procedural timelines, produce documents, engage in discoveries, attend pre-trials, case conferences and hearings, and respond to undertakings, those steps should be pursued.  If COVID-19 prevents lawyers and parties from fulfilling their obligations, they should be prepared to explain to the Court why COVID-19 has rendered compliance not feasible.
  • Counsel and parties are expected to cooperate to engage in every effort to resolve matters.  This includes participating in mediations, whether prescribed or not.
  • The requirement to gown for an appearance is suspended.  Business attire is required for video hearings.
  • The Court expects parties to only submit brief materials to allow for a fair, timely and summary disposition.  Every effort must be made to limit materials to only those necessary for the hearing.
  • Case law and other source materials referenced in a factum should be hyperlinked.  Where hyperlinks are provided, it will not be necessary to file books of authorities.
  • Affidavits are permitted to be commissioned by video if it is not possible to administer an oath in person.  The affidavit should state that it was commissioned by video conference.
  • Where it is not possible to commission an affidavit by video conference, an unsworn affidavit may be delivered to the Court, but the deponent must be able to participate in a telephone or video conference hearing to swear or affirm the affidavit.
  • It is not necessary to obtain consent or a court order to serve a document by e-mail where e-mail service is permitted, unless there is an order of the Court directing otherwise.