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Amendments to Practice Direction – Gowning and Class Proceedings

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice’s Consolidated Provincial Practice Direction was amended effective January 18, 2021. The amendments address gowning in court, as well as costs outlines and a new Judges’ Book of Authorities in class proceedings.

Gowning Requirements

Paragraph 59 of the Consolidated Practice Direction indicates that, unless a region-specific Practice Direction states otherwise, counsel are not required to gown for the following court attendances:

  • Trial scheduling court (also known as assignment court, “speak to” court or “purge court”) in family, criminal or civil proceedings;
  • Case conferences, settlement conferences, trial management conferences, or pre-trials; and
  • Small Claims Court proceedings.

Counsel must be gowned for all other in-person proceedings.

It appears that gowning is now required for in-person motions before Masters. The court’s summary of the amendments indicates: “[t]here is no longer a distinction between appearances before judges and Case Management Masters”.

Paragraphs 60 and 61 address modifications to attire for counsel with personal circumstances, including pregnancy, a medical condition or a disability. Modified attire must be both dark in colour and in keeping with court decorum.

Counsel wearing modified attire are requested to advise the court clerk or registrar before the opening of court that they are wearing such attire in accordance with the Practice Direction, so that they do not need to discuss their personal circumstances on the record or in open court.

Class Proceedings – Costs Outlines and Judges’ Book of Authorities

Paragraph 43 of the Consolidated Practice Direction indicates that, if parties intend to seek costs for motions in class proceedings, costs outlines (Form 57B) are required, unless the parties have agreed on costs. Costs outlines are not to exceed three pages.

It is preferable for all sections of Form 57B to be completed. However, it will be acceptable for costs outlines to contain, at a minimum, the fees and disbursements requested (the first part of Form 57B) and particulars of the amount claimed (the last section of Form 57B).

Costs outlines are to be exchanged between the parties and are to be provided to the judge in a sealed envelope at the commencement of the motion.

Counsel are expected to consult with one another in advance of the hearing to attempt to resolve costs.

Paragraph 44 refers to a new Class Proceedings Judges’ Book of Authorities, which contains frequently relied on authorities. This book will be updated from time to time.

The authorities in the Judges’ Book do not need to be included in the parties’ books of authorities. However, if the authorities in the Judges’ Book are going to be referred to during the motion, extracts should be included in the parties’ books of authorities.

Further, where possible, books of authorities should be prepared jointly among counsel. If counsel cannot agree on a joint book of authorities, they should still consult with one another to avoid duplication of authorities in their respective books of authorities.