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Court’s Decision on Procedure for Virtual Trial

The decision in Cave v. Hovsepyan, 2021 ONSC 4126, addressed procedural issues for a virtual trial. Trial judges have broad discretion to determine the procedure for a trial, but this decision may provide useful guidance for other matters.

For example, Justice Sanfilippo indicated that each party shall designate a lead counsel for a stage in the trial or for a witness. The lead counsel is required to ensure that they have the contact information for the witnesses they intend to call and to ensure that the witnesses are available to join the virtual courtroom when called to testify.

Justice Sanfilippo indicated that documents will be presented to the court and to the witnesses through CaseLines. If a document is entered as an exhibit, it will be identified based on the page number(s) on CaseLines and then tagged with a CaseLines exhibit label. The registrar will later affix an electronic exhibit stamp to the document for the purpose of entering it into the trial record.

Justice Sanfilippo said that he would adopt and rely on the management of a virtual trial as set out in Rovi Guides Inc. v. Videotron Ltd., 2020 FC 637. In that case, the Federal Court addressed numerous issues on virtual trials, including the protocol that witnesses must follow while giving evidence and how to put documents to witnesses.

It should be noted that, in a subsequent decision, the trial in Cave v. Hovsepyan was adjourned due to late production of documents by the plaintiff.