Amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure are coming into force on January 1, 2021. The amendments can be found here.
The amendments are fairly extensive and include:
1. Rule 1.08(1). For a hearing that requires attendance, such as a motion, the party has to propose whether it should be heard in person, by telephone conference, or by video conference. This does not apply to case conferences or proceedings at the Court of Appeal.
A party who objects to the proposed method of hearing has to deliver a notice of objection (Form 1A) before the earlier of 10 days after being served with the document (e.g., notice of motion) and seven days prior to the hearing. The objection will be dealt with at a case conference.
The factors that the court will consider in addressing an objection are in rule 1.08(6) and include: the general principle that evidence and argument should be presented orally in open court; the importance of the evidence; the importance of observing the demeanour of a witness; whether a party, witness or lawyer is unable to attend due to infirmity, illness or any other reason; and the balance of convenience.
2. Rule 1.08(8). For discoveries and mandatory mediations, one party has to propose the method of attendance (in person, by telephone, or by video conference). If a party delivers a notice of objection to the proposed method, one of the parties has to request a case conference.
3. Rule 4.05.3. This clause addresses requirements for CaseLines, which is a document storage platform that is being used in some court hearings and pre-trial conferences in Toronto, and is expected to be rolled out across Ontario by the end of 2021.
Draft orders and factums have to be submitted to CaseLines in both PDF and Word formats. Compendiums (with excerpted portions of cases and evidence) need to be prepared and submitted. Compendiums and factums must have bookmarks and hyperlinks.
For motions and applications, the deadline to submit documents to CaseLines is the same as the deadline for the confirmation form (three days prior to the hearing). For all other matters, the deadline is five days prior to the hearing or conference, unless the court directs otherwise.
Submitting documents to CaseLines does not amount to service or filing of the documents. Counsel will still need to comply with the Rules relating to serving and filing in the normal manner.
4. Rule 16.05(1)(d). This clause will be revoked, which means that service on a lawyer by fax will no longer be permitted.
5. Rule 16.05(1)(f). Consent will no longer be required to serve a lawyer by e-mail. A lawyer can be served “by e-mailing a copy to the last e-mail address for service provided by the lawyer or, if no such e-mail address has been provided, to the lawyer’s last known e-mail address”.
6. Rule 37.10.1(1)(b). Motion confirmation forms have to be sent to other counsel by e-mail, not by fax.
7. Rule 50.05(1). For pre-trial conferences, the method of participation of parties is being revoked, which suggests that in-person attendance of clients is not required.