There is a new Notice of the Profession for the Ontario Superior Court of Justice’s Northwest Region. The Northwest Region is comprised of Thunder Bay, Kenora, and Fort Frances.
For civil matters, the presumptive mode of proceedings in the Northwest Region is the same as the Provincial Notice to the Profession. However, when a hearing is presumptively to be heard in person, the parties can change this to a virtual or hybrid hearing on consent.
If there is disagreement on the mode of a proceeding, a request to vary can be made. The court will consider the cost for counsel or parties to attend in person, the event in question, and the importance of moving matters forward in a timely fashion.
One of the main points in the Notice is being mindful of access to justice. The Notice states: “[t]he distances between court locations, the cost of travel to and within the Northwest Region as well as the vast size of the Northwest Region, has meant that virtual hearings (by video or telephone conference) have always been an accepted method of accessing the Courts”. The Court will maintain a flexible approach to scheduling civil matters in person, virtually or as hybrid proceedings.
A party who insists on an in-person event, including an examination for discovery, that results in increased and unnecessary travel costs may be subject to costs consequences.