Practice Directions and Notices Regarding COVID-19

coa CREST

Consolidated Practice Direction Regarding Proceedings in the Court of Appeal During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Effective: March 29, 2021
Released: March 15, 2021
Revisions Released: March 31, 2021; July 6, 2021; September 27, 2021; October 26, 2021; November 1, 2021; November 10, 2021; December 17, 2021; January 10, 2022; March 22, 2022; April 26, 2022; August 22, 2022; September 13, 2022; October 17, 2022

I. Preamble

  1. This Practice Direction provides direction for practices at the Court of Appeal during the COVID-19 pandemic. It consolidates, updates and replaces all existing COVID‑19 practice directions and notices. The Practice Direction Concerning Civil Appeals at the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the Practice Direction Concerning Criminal Appeals at the Court of Appeal for Ontario continue to apply except to the extent that they are varied by this Practice Direction.
  2. Due to the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, the provisions of the new Criminal Appeal Rules that are inconsistent with this Practice Direction do not apply unless otherwise ordered by the court or a judge of the court. In particular, rule 10 (“Manner of Hearing”) and its associated Form 6 (“Notice of Objection to Proposed Manner of Hearing”) do not apply unless otherwise ordered by the court or a judge of the court.
  3. This Practice Direction will be updated as circumstances require. Amendments will be listed in Appendix A.

II. Service and Filing of Documents

A. Timelines for Service and Filing of Documents

  1. The timelines for serving and filing documents in many proceedings at the Court of Appeal were extended between March 16, 2020 and July 15, 2020. Effective July 16, 2020, the court reinstated the regular timelines for serving and filing documents as prescribed by legislation and the rules of court.
  2. Unless the court directs otherwise, the period of any extension of time granted under the following practice directions will not be considered in calculating the time prescribed to take a step in any Court of Appeal proceeding:
    1. Practice Direction Concerning the Reinstatement of Times Prescribed in Criminal Proceedings in the Court of Appeal for Ontario (June 25, 2020);
    2. Practice Direction Concerning the Reinstatement of Times Prescribed in Civil Proceedings in the Court of Appeal for Ontario (June 25, 2020); and
    3. Practice Direction Concerning the Reinstatement of Times Prescribed in Proceedings Arising Under the Provincial Offences Act in the Court of Appeal for Ontario (June 25, 2020).
  3. In criminal proceedings, the court will accept for filing Crown notices of appeal where service has been effected within the prescribed appeal period, even if the notice of appeal is filed outside the prescribed period, so long as the notice of appeal is filed within a reasonable time following service.

B. Requirements for Electronic Materials

(a) General Requirements for All Electronic Materials

  1. As a result of changes made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court of Appeal currently requires parties to file electronic versions of all court documents, including appeal and motion materials in all criminal and civil proceedings. The requirements of the Rules of Civil Procedure, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 194, the Criminal Appeal Rules, the Family Law Rules, O. Reg. 114/99, and all existing practice directions and guidelines requiring the filing of paper copies of documents in the Court of Appeal are dispensed with unless otherwise ordered by the court.
  2. Electronic materials filed at the court should:
    1. be a text-searchable format (e.g., Word, Adobe PDF). Scanned PDF documents must use an Optical Character Recognition format. The Optical Character Recognition software must be set to at least 300 dpi and must not be set to grayscale;
    2. use PDF page references when citing to a PDF document. For example, if a factum refers to a page in an appeal book that is filed in PDF format, the factum should refer to the PDF page number in the appeal book; and
    3. use electronic bookmarks that describe the content of the electronic tab. For example, use bookmarks with names such as “Tab 1 – Notice of Appeal”.
  3. The file names for all electronically-filed materials must comply with the naming conventions set out at Appendix B of this Practice Direction.
  4. Failure to comply with any of the requirements for electronic filing may result in materials being rejected.

(b) Electronic Signatures Permitted

  1. Electronic signatures are deemed to have the same effect as ink signatures. Acceptable forms of electronic signatures include:
    1. a scanned copy of a physically signed document;
    2. a scanned signature pasted in the signature block of an electronic document; and
    3. a signature created using a touchscreen and pasted in the signature block of an electronic document.

(c) Issued and Entered Orders Required in Civil Proceedings

  1. An issued and entered order is required for the purpose of an appeal to the Court of Appeal in civil proceedings.
  2. For information on obtaining an order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice during the COVID-19 pandemic, please see section D.6 of the Superior Court’s Consolidated Notice to the Profession, Litigants, Accused Persons, Public and the Media.

(d) Factums

  1. All text in factums must be double-spaced, except for quotations longer than four lines and footnotes. Margins must be approximately 40 millimeters on the left-hand side.
  2. Factums must use 12-point or larger font. The court encourages the use of Arial or Times New Roman for all text in factums, including citations and footnotes.
  3. Factums must be signed using an electronic signature.
  4. Factums should contain hyperlinks to the cases cited. The hyperlinks must link to either:
    1. the party’s book of authorities; or
    2. the judgment databases found on the websites of Canadian courts or canlii.org/en/index.html, and where not available on these websites, to LexisNexis Quicklaw or WestlawNext Canada.
  5. Where possible, factums should also contain hyperlinks to the documents referred to in the factums.
  6. If a party provides hyperlinks to the sources in their book of authorities, they must file the factum and book of authorities when the factum is due.

(e) Books of Authorities

  1. Electronic books of authorities allow the judges to effectively consider the parties’ submissions. Parties should file electronic books of authorities containing copies of the cases and relevant extracts from the secondary sources cited in the factums. Parties are strongly encouraged to highlight or side-bar the relevant passages in the authorities to assist the judges in identifying the passages being relied on.
  2. Electronic books of authorities should include bookmarks with the name of each case or secondary source. It is helpful to include in the index hyperlinks to the cases or secondary sources in books of authorities.

(f) Appeal Books, Compendiums and Exhibit Books

  1. Appeal books, compendiums and exhibit books should include electronic bookmarks with the tab number and name of each document. It is helpful to include in the index hyperlinks to the documents in appeal books, compendiums and exhibit books.
  2. A party may file a large appeal book, compendium or exhibit book in multiple volumes.
  3. Sealed materials, electronic or otherwise, will not be released to the parties without a court order.
  4. In criminal proceedings, motions for the release of original electronic exhibits entered at trial are not required for counsel matters. Electronic exhibits released to counsel must be included in the appeal book.

(g) Oral Hearing Compendiums

  1. In advance of an oral appeal hearing, parties are encouraged to file an “Oral Hearing Compendium” containing:
    1. an outline of 500 words or less of the party’s anticipated oral argument; or
    2. extracts of the documents and extracts of the cases that the parties intend to refer to during oral argument; or
    3. both.
  1. The electronic version of the Oral Hearing Compendium must be served on the parties and filed with the court by email to COA.E-file@ontario.ca at least five business days before the scheduled hearing.

(h) Motion Records

  1. Motion records that are filed on motions heard by a three-judge panel of the court must contain electronic bookmarks. It is helpful to include in the index hyperlinks to the documents in the motion record.
  2. Single-judge motion records that are 100 pages or more must be bookmarked. It is helpful to include in the index hyperlinks to the documents in the motion record.
  3. It is not necessary to bookmark or hyperlink single-judge motion records that are less than 100 pages.
  4. Parties to panel and single judge motions must file a Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form in accordance with section III.C of this Practice Direction. In particular, moving parties in single judge motions must submit the completed Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form to the court’s e-filing email address at COA.E-file@ontario.caat the same time as they file their notice of motion. The responding parties to single judge motions must submit their form 24 hours before the hearing (excluding weekends and holidays). For panel motions, parties must file the completed Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form to COA.E-file@ontario.ca at least 10 business days before the hearing.
  5. For more information on requirements for motion materials for bail-related matters (including bail pending appeal applications, applications to vary bails, applications to extend bails, and bail reviews), see Bail Matters (Part V).

(i) Inmate Appeal Books in Criminal Proceedings

  1. Subrule 58(2) of the Criminal Appeal Rules, sets out what the Crown must include in appeal books for inmate appeals (i.e., appeals brought by persons who are in custody at the time the notice of appeal is filed and are not represented by counsel).
  2. Pursuant to subrule 58(4), the Crown is excused from strict compliance with the requirements of subrule 58(2). Instead, subject to the court’s discretion to direct otherwise, the Crown is only required to include those documents that may be relevant to an argument raised on appeal.
  3. In determining what documents may be relevant to an argument raised on appeal, after filing an inmate appeal book or books containing transcripts and any other documents identified by the Crown as being potentially relevant, the Crown must consult with the appellant and duty counsel.
  4. Where the parties disagree on the contents of the appeal book, they may seek direction from the court. The letter may be directed to the attention of the Deputy Registrar, who will place it before the Designated Inmate Appeal Judge for direction.

C. Electronic Service of Documents

(a) Service Rules Applicable to Criminal and Civil Proceedings

  1. Unless the court orders otherwise, parties may electronically serve documents by email, either by attaching the documents to an email or by using a file-sharing service that provides shared links to online or cloud drives. Parties are responsible to ensure that any such file-sharing services enforce appropriate safety, security and confidentiality protocols.
  2. Electronic service in accordance with paragraph 37 constitutes proper service unless the intended recipient of the document(s) shows otherwise. The requirements of the Rules of Civil Procedure, the Criminal Appeal Rules, the Family Law Rules, and all existing practice directions and guidelines requiring the service of paper copies of documents for proceedings in the Court of Appeal are dispensed with unless otherwise ordered by the court.
  3. Parties are no longer permitted to file unsworn affidavits of service.

(b) Service Rules Specific to Criminal Proceedings Only

(i) Appeals by the Crown

  1. The Crown is not required to personally serve notices of appeal and notices of abandonment.
  2. When the respondent is self-represented, the Crown may serve the notice of appeal:
    1. by email, registered mail or courier on trial counsel (if any) so long as trial counsel confirms in writing that they have instructions to accept service;
    2. by registered mail or courier to the respondent’s last known address, where a reasonable effort has been made to obtain a current one; or
    3. by email to the respondent.
  3. When the respondent is represented, the Crown may serve the notice of appeal on counsel by email.
  4. If the Crown serves the notice of appeal on counsel by email, the Crown may file the notice of appeal with the court in the same email. The email address for filing at the court is COA.E-file@ontario.ca. The Crown should include in the email counsel’s confirmation that they have instructions to accept service.
  5. In Part XX.1 appeals, the parties should continue to be aware of special considerations when serving court documents, as outlined in subrule 66(5) of the Criminal Appeal Rules and subsection 18.2(1) of the Practice Direction Concerning Criminal Appeals at the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

(ii) Appeals by the Accused

  1. When the appellant is the accused person, notices of appeal should be served and filed in accordance with subrules 7(2)-(3) and 53(2) and paragraph 66(3)(a) of the Criminal Appeal Rules. In addition to the requirements in the rules, if the appellant is represented by counsel, counsel must also provide a copy of the notice of appeal to the Crown by email through the applicable Crown Attorney’s e-service address.

D. Electronic Filing of Documents

(a) Electronic Filing Required

  1. As noted in paragraph 7 of this Practice Direction, parties must file all documents electronically. Paper copies of documents are not required. The requirements of the Rules of Civil Procedure, the Criminal Appeal Rules, the Family Law Rules, and all existing practice directions and guidelines requiring the filing of paper copies of documents in the Court of Appeal are dispensed with unless otherwise ordered by the court.

(b) Manner of Electronic Filing

  1. Unless otherwise advised by the court, and subject to the rules set out at paragraph 48 for bail-related matters, parties may electronically file materials with the Court of Appeal:
    1. by email to COA.E-file@ontario.ca, with attached documents or a link to a file-sharing service; or
    2. by delivery of a USB key labelled with the court file number.
  2. All materials for bail-related matters (including bail pending appeal applications, applications to vary bails, applications to extend bails, and bail reviews) must be filed by email. For more information on filing materials for bail-related matters, see Filing Materials for Bail Matters (Section V.A).
  3. All materials that are served and filed electronically must be labelled with the court file number and named in accordance with the file-naming rules set out in Appendix B of this Practice Direction.
  4. All materials must be filed in an acceptable file format. Acceptable file formats include the following: AVI, BMP, DOC, DOCX, HTML, JPEG, JPG, MP3, MP4, MPEG, MSG, PDF, PPT, PPTX, TIF, PNG, VOB, WAV, WMA, XLS and XLSX.
  5. The maximum file size for each file is 150MB. As noted in paragraph 54, however, if filing by email, the maximum email size, including attachments, is 35MB. The court cannot accept compressed materials that require the use of a file archiver, such as 7-Zip.

(i) Filing by Email

  1. The email address for electronically filing materials at the Court of Appeal is COA.E-file@ontario.ca. The COA.E-file@ontario.ca address is not designed or intended to receive any inquiries or other communications about court proceedings. Unless otherwise directed, the COA.E-file@ontario.ca address should only be used to file materials and correspondence as specified in this Practice Direction, the Practice Direction Concerning Civil Appeals at the Court of Appeal for Ontario, and the Practice Direction Concerning Criminal Appeals at the Court of Appeal for Ontario. Requests to obtain status updates on filings and other general inquiries should not be made to COA.E-file@ontario.ca, but instead directed to the court’s Intake Office at 416-327-5020 from within the Toronto area, or toll free at 1-855-718-1756 from outside Toronto. Court staff will answer calls Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., excluding weekends and holidays.
  2. An automatic reply is sent when an email is sent to COA.E-file@ontario.ca. The automatic reply is not confirmation that the documents have been accepted for filing. If there are problems with the documents and they are not accepted for filing, the court will contact the affected party.
  3. Documents filed by email attachment cannot be larger than 35MB. Documents larger than 35MB should be divided into smaller parts and labelled accordingly or should be sent using a file-sharing service that provides shared links online or in the cloud. Parties should be aware that their internet service/email provider may have lower limits on the permitted size of attachments.
  4. The court can access the following file-sharing services, provided the documents are shared with a direct link:
    1. Microsoft OneDrive;
    2. Google Drive;
    3. Dropbox; and
    4. Enterprise Attachment Transfer Service.

The court cannot access cloud-based file-sharing services that use two-stage verification, require online registration (including by requesting that a user enter a name or email address), or are blocked by the court’s network due to firewall restrictions, including WeTransfer.

  1. Parties must include in the subject line and the body of the email the court file number and the nature of the document or documents being filed. If any information in the document or documents is subject to a publication ban, sealing order, or legislative provision banning publication, then the existence of the restriction on publication should clearly be indicated in the subject line and the body of the email. For example:

Subject: C12345 – Appellant’s Factum [Note: Publication ban under s. 134(11) of the Child, Youth and Family Services Act]

Please note that the materials in the attached factum are subject to a statutory prohibition under s. 134(11) of the Child, Youth and Family Services Act on publishing or making public information that has the effect of identifying a witness at or a participant in a hearing, or a party to a hearing other than a society.

(ii) Filing by USB Key

  1. Parties may electronically file materials with the Court of Appeal by filing a USB key by mail, by courier, or in person. Only one copy of the USB key is required.
  2. The USB key must be labelled with the court file number. The party must include a covering letter setting out a list of the files contained on the USB key.
  3. If any information found on the USB key is subject to a publication ban, sealing order, or legislative provision banning publication, then this should clearly be indicated on the covering letter and, if feasible, on a label affixed to the USB key.

(c) Electronic Filing of Documents Under Seal

  1. Electronic documents that are filed under seal must be labelled as sealed and must be filed in password‑protected format.
  2. The party filing the sealed document must give the password by telephone to the Deputy Registrar and Manager of Court Administration at 416‑327‑6017.
  3. If parties have questions about the electronic filing of sealed documents, they should contact the Deputy Registrar and Manager of Court Administration.

(d) Replacement Copies of Paper Documents Required

  1. Unless otherwise directed by the court, if only paper copies of the materials have been filed to date in a pending proceeding, the parties must file replacement electronic copies of all materials needed for the hearing as soon as reasonably possible, and in any event no later than 45 days before the hearing date.

(e) Payment of Filing Fees

  1. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the court is accepting payment of filing fees by (i) cheque, (ii) money order, or (iii) credit card. Cheques and money orders should be made payable to the Minister of Finance and may be sent by mail or courier or delivered in person to the court. Parties making payment by credit card must (i) complete an authorization form and return it to the court by email at COA.E-file@ontario.ca or (ii) complete the payment in person at the court.
  2. A list of filing fees is available at this link.

(f) Fee Waiver Request Forms

  1. Parties are no longer permitted to file unsworn fee waiver request forms.

(g) Public Counter Services

  1. Effective April 4, 2022, in-person public counter services at the Court of Appeal are offered from Monday to Friday, except holidays, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  2. As noted in paragraph 7 of this Practice Direction, parties must file all documents electronically. Paper copies of documents are not required. Parties who choose to file documents using a USB key labelled with the court file number may mail the USB key to the court or, if that option is not possible, parties may drop off the USB key inside the public lobby of the Intake Office. The requirements of the Rules of Civil Procedure, the Criminal Appeal Rules, the Family Law Rules, and all existing practice directions and guidelines requiring the filing of paper copies of documents in the Court of Appeal are dispensed with unless otherwise ordered by the court.
  3. In-person public counter services may be used if a request cannot be completed by phone or email or if materials cannot be filed by email.
  4. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who should be self-isolating pursuant to provincial or municipal guidelines should not be entering the courthouse and should be completing any court-related business remotely.

III. Scheduling and Conduct of Hearings

A. Scheduling of Hearings

  1. The Court of Appeal recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions and stresses in the personal and professional lives of counsel and litigants. The court expects counsel and litigants to be flexible and reasonable when scheduling appeals and motions in the Court of Appeal, and to have due consideration for the personal circumstances of others.
  2. The operational impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Court of Appeal are such that it may be necessary to schedule some appeal hearings outside the four‑to‑six‑month timeline set out in subsection 12.1(1) of the Practice Direction Concerning Civil Appeals at the Court of Appeal for Ontario and subsection 10.2(1) of the Practice Direction Concerning Criminal Appeals at the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

B. Manner of Hearing

(a) Rule 10 (“Manner of Hearing”) of the Criminal Appeal Rules Inapplicable Unless Otherwise Ordered

  1. As noted in paragraph 2 of this Practice Direction, rule 10 (“Manner of Hearing”) of the Criminal Appeal Rules and its associated Form 6 (“Notice of Objection to Proposed Manner of Hearing”) do not apply unless otherwise ordered by the court or a judge of the court. Instead, this Practice Direction governs the manner of hearing for all matters at the Court of Appeal.

(b) Appeals and Panel Motions

  1. Unless otherwise directed or specified below, the Court of Appeal conducts appeals and panel motions in person.
  2. A party to an in-person appeal or panel motion may still choose to appear remotely. Each party should indicate whether they will be appearing in person or remotely on the Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form.
  3. Paragraph 74 does not apply to panel motions which are normally heard in writing, including summary conviction leave applications and motions for leave to appeal under r. 61.03.1 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. These motions will continue to be heard in writing unless otherwise directed.
  4. Inmate appeals are conducted in person, but until September 6, 2022, in-custody inmates must appear remotely by video conference. Effective September 6, 2022, in-custody inmates will be presumed to be appearing in person. In-custody inmates who wish to appear remotely on or after September 6, 2022, must advise the court as far in advance of the hearing as possible and no later than the date on which the appeal hearing is confirmed with the court.
  5. Appeals from orders made under Part XX.1 – Mental Disorder of the Criminal Code (generally known as Ontario Review Board appeals or ORB appeals) are conducted in person, but until September 6, 2022, in-custody, unrepresented parties to ORB appeals must appear remotely by video conference. Effective September 6, 2022, in-custody, unrepresented parties to ORB appeals will be presumed to be appearing in person. In-custody, unrepresented parties to ORB appeals who wish to appear remotely on or after September 6, 2022, must advise the court as soon as possible and no later than 60 days before the hearing date.

(c) Single Judge Motions

  1. Unless otherwise directed and subject to the one exception set out in the paragraph 80 for inmate appeals, the Court of Appeal conducts all single judge oral motions remotely by video or audio conference using the Zoom platform. Single judge motions proceeding in writing continue to be heard in writing.
  2. For single judge motions and “to be spoken to” appearances in inmate appeal matters, unless otherwise directed and irrespective of whether the court is sitting in Kingston or in Toronto:
    1. In-custody inmates must appear by video or audio conference; and
    2. Lawyers and out-of-custody inmates may appear in person or by video or audio conference.

(d) Status Court and Purge Court

  1. Unless otherwise directed, the Court of Appeal will hold status court and purge court remotely by video or audio conference using the Zoom platform.

C. Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form

  1. The court requires that parties to all appeals and motions must fully and accurately complete and submit a Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form within the times specified in this section of the Practice Direction. The Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form contains information that is essential to the effective hearing of matters in the Court of Appeal.
  2. The Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form is available at this link.
  3. For appeals and panel motions, parties must submit the completed Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form to the court’s e-filing email address at COA.E-file@ontario.ca at least 10 business days before the hearing. All other parties should be copied on the email. Parties are encouraged to collaborate and submit one form on behalf of all parties.
  4. For single judge motions, moving parties must submit the completed Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form to the court’s e-filing email address at COA.E-file@ontario.ca at the same time as they file their notice of motion. Responding parties must submit their form 24 hours before the hearing (excluding weekends and holidays).
  5. All information on the Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form must be filled out except the name and contact information for the other parties, if completing the form separately. If the information on the Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form changes for any reason before the hearing, an updated form must be filed immediately.

D. In-Person Hearings

  1. Parties are directed to consult the Court of Appeal for Ontario Protocol for In-Person Hearings During the COVID-19 Pandemic available at this link.
  2. Any party to an appeal or panel motion proceeding in person may appear remotely. Each party must indicate on the Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form whether they will be appearing in person or remotely.
  3. Until further notice, the court will continue to encourage physical distancing. To assist in allowing people to physically distance, parties should limit the number of people physically attending in-person hearings.
  4. In-person attendance is ordinarily limited to individuals making oral submissions and a maximum of two additional individuals per party (e.g., counsel not making oral submissions, a client, a support person, an articling student, a mentor, a mentee, etc.). In limited instances, it may be possible to schedule an overflow courtroom in Osgoode Hall if parties require more than two additional individuals to attend a hearing in person. Parties may direct inquiries (preferably jointly) about the possibility of scheduling an overflow courtroom in Osgoode Hall to the Executive Legal Officer at ExecutiveLegalOfficer@ontario.ca at the same time they submit their Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form.
  5. The courtrooms for in-person hearings are equipped with technology that permits the use of the Zoom video conferencing platform. All parties to in-person hearings will receive a Zoom link, webinar/meeting ID and password, and telephone numbers for the hearing. The Zoom connection information may be used by:
    1. a party who elects to proceed remotely; or
    2. a party who intended to attend the hearing in person but, due to illness or some other circumstance, is not able to attend the in-person hearing and needs to switch to a remote appearance.

In addition, as further explained at paragraph 118, parties to a hearing may share the Zoom link, webinar/meeting ID and password, and telephone numbers for the hearing with anyone that wishes to observe the hearing, unless the hearing is in camera.

  1. The robing rooms at the Law Society of Ontario and the courthouse will be reopening on August 29, 2022. When attending appeal hearings and panel motions in person prior to August 29, 2022, counsel are encouraged to gown. On and after August 29, 2022, counsel will be expected to gown when attending appeal hearings and panel motions in person.

E. Requests for In-Custody, Represented Appellants to Observe Their Appeal Hearings by Video Conference

  1. Appellants who are in custody and who are represented by counsel may observe their appeal hearings by video conference. In order to request that an in-custody appellant observe by video conference, counsel must send an email to the Office of the Registrar at coa.registrar@ontario.ca, copying the other parties, at least 30 days in advance of the appeal hearing. The body of the email must include:
    1. the title of the proceeding;
    2. the court file number;
    3. the fact that it is a request to coordinate the appearance of an in-custody, represented appellant at the appeal hearing by video conference;
    4. the appellant’s full name and date of birth; and
    5. the name of the institution where the appellant is in custody and the contact information for the Duty Officer, if available.
  2. The court will forward the request for attendance by video conference to the appellant’s institution. If there are any issues with the request, the court will contact the parties.
  3. In general, the earlier a request for observation by video conference is submitted, the easier it is to coordinate. Please be aware that requests submitted less than 30 days in advance of the appeal hearing may not be able to be fulfilled.

F. Zoom Protocols

(a) Preparing to Use Zoom

  1. To participate in a Zoom appearance by video, parties will need an internet connection and a computer or similar device with a webcam, microphone, speaker, and sufficient bandwidth (3 Mbps or greater). Parties are encouraged to use headsets or earbuds to improve the audio quality.
  2. Parties can download or subscribe to Zoom at https://zoom.us/ and test Zoom prior to their appearance at https://zoom.us/test. It is not necessary to purchase a subscription to Zoom. Participating in a hearing scheduled by the Court of Appeal is free.
  3. User tutorials for Zoom are available at https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206618765-Zoom-Video-Tutorials.
  4. If a party experiences technical difficulties with Zoom, they should consult the Zoom Help Center at https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us.
  5. Best practices for participating in Zoom appearances at the Court of Appeal can be found in Appendix C to this Practice Direction and in the E-Hearings Task Force’s Best Practices for Remote Hearings. Parties should follow any direction given by the panel or presiding judge.

(b) Participating in a Hearing Using Zoom

  1. Prior to the hearing of an appeal or motion using Zoom, the court will send parties an email with the following information:
    1. a hyperlink to access the hearing;
    2. the meeting ID and password for the hearing; and
    3. the telephone numbers that may be used to access the hearing.
  2. Parties to a hearing may share the Zoom link, webinar/meeting ID and password, and telephone numbers for the hearing with anyone who wishes to observe, unless the hearing is closed to the public in accordance with a statutory provision or a court order. When sharing this information with observers, it is the responsibility of the parties to also share this warning:

    Unless permission is given by the court, it is an offence under s. 136 of the Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.43, punishable by a fine of not more than $25,000 or imprisonment of up to six months, or both, to record any part of the hearing, including by way of screenshot/capture and photograph, as well as to publish, broadcast, reproduce or disseminate any such recording.

    This warning will be included with the Zoom link, webinar/meeting ID and password, and telephone numbers for the hearing provided to the parties by the court.

  1. Parties can join a hearing using Zoom by clicking on the link provided in the hearing email, or by opening Zoom, clicking on the “Join” or “Join a Meeting” icon, and entering the meeting ID and password provided.
  2. Parties to the hearing should label themselves with their full names and roles in the proceeding, not with pseudonyms or aliases. Parties are invited to include their prefix (e.g., Mr./Ms./Mrs./Mx., etc.) or pronouns (e.g., he/him, she/her, they/them, etc.) in their screen name.
  3. The hearing will be open to parties beginning 30 minutes before the appeal or motion is scheduled to be heard. Parties must sign into Zoom well in advance of the scheduled hearing time to address any issues with technology.
  4. All parties in the appeal or motion must be present for the pre‑hearing check-in, which will occur approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled hearing time.
  5. The court uses the Zoom webinar platform for all matters except for in camera proceedings (i.e., proceedings that are closed to the public) and inmate appeals (i.e., appeals brought by persons who are in custody at the time the notice of appeal is filed and are not represented by counsel). When joining Zoom, parties and observers will join as attendees in the Zoom webinar. Parties making submissions, as listed on the Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form, will be promoted to panelists to the hearing by court staff once the pre-hearing check-in is ready to commence.
  6. The court uses the Zoom meeting platform for in camera proceedings and inmate appeals. For in camera proceedings and inmate appeals, parties and observers will be placed in a Zoom meeting waiting room and then admitted into the hearing by court staff once the pre-hearing check-in is ready to commence.
  7. For appeal hearings and panel motions, counsel are encouraged to gown if attending remotely. Counsel are not expected to gown for single judge motions.
  8. Screensharing is only permitted if permission is sought and obtained at the hearing from the presiding judge or judges. Judges have access to all filed electronic documents on their own computers so screensharing is not necessary.
  9. Parties to a hearing are reminded that, unless permission is given by the court, it is an offence under section 136 of the Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.43, punishable by a fine of not more than $25,000 or imprisonment of up to six months, or both, to record any part of a hearing, including by way of screenshot/capture and photograph, as well as to publish, broadcast, reproduce or disseminate any such recording.

(c) Dealing with Technical Difficulties in Hearings and Joining by Audio Conference

  1. If a party is unable to participate in a hearing by video conference, the party may seek the permission of the panel or the presiding judge to join the hearing by telephone. A party joining by phone must call the phone number provided and follow the directions on entering the meeting ID and password. Parties should join by telephone only if they experience technical issues with the video conference and only with the approval of the panel or the presiding judge.
  2. During a hearing, the courtroom registrar may contact a party by phone or email as indicated on the Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form if that person appears to be experiencing connection issues with the virtual courtroom. Parties should ensure that they have their phones with them at all times so that they can be reached, should the need arise.

E. Interpretation and Accessibility Requests

  1. All requests for interpretation services should be made at the earliest opportunity before a hearing date. The Ministry of the Attorney General provides court interpreters in select circumstances, as outlined at this link. The parties must otherwise retain their own interpreters for court hearings. More information about court interpretation for matters before the Court of Appeal can be obtained from the court’s Intake Office at 416-327-5020.
  2. The Court of Appeal is committed to ensuring that it is accessible to persons with disabilities. If a party has questions about a disability-related accommodation request, the party may contact the court’s Accessibility Coordinator at 416‑326‑1029 or coa.registrar@ontario.ca.

IV. Public and Media Access to Hearings

  1. Unless there is a legal provision or a court order that requires a hearing to be held in camera (closed to the public), members of the public and the media may observe hearings remotely.

A. Recording Proceedings Without the Court’s Permission is Strictly Prohibited

  1. Hearing observers are reminded that, unless permission is given by the court, it is an offence under section 136 of the Courts of Justice Act, punishable by a fine of not more than $25,000 or imprisonment of up to six months, or both, to record any part of a hearing, including by way of screenshot/capture and photograph, as well as to publish, broadcast, reproduce or disseminate any such recording.

B. Parties May Share the Zoom Details for the Hearing

  1. Parties to a hearing may share the Zoom link, webinar/meeting ID and password, and telephone numbers for the hearing that they receive from the court with anyone that wishes to observe, unless the hearing is in camera. The same Zoom link, webinar/meeting ID and password, and telephone numbers will work for parties/counsel and for observers. When sharing this information with observers, it is the responsibility of the parties to also share this warning:

    Unless permission is given by the court, it is an offence under s. 136 of the Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.43, punishable by a fine of not more than $25,000 or imprisonment of up to six months, or both, to record any part of the hearing, including by way of screenshot/capture and photograph, as well as to publish, broadcast, reproduce or disseminate any such recording.

    This warning will be included with the Zoom link, webinar/meeting ID and password, and telephone numbers for the hearing provided to the parties by the court.

C. How to Request Access to a Hearing from the Court

  1. Members of the public and the media who wish to observe a hearing and have not received the Zoom link, webinar/meeting ID and password, and telephone numbers for the hearing from the parties may send a request for access to the hearing to the Office of the Registrar at coa.registrar@ontario.ca at least 48 hours in advance of the hearing (excluding weekends and holidays). So long as the hearing is not being held in camera, the Office of the Registrar will provide the observer with the Zoom link, webinar/meeting ID and password, and telephone numbers for the hearing, as well as the warning set out above.

D. How to Connect to the Hearing

  1. Generally, members of the public and the media may observe the hearing remotely by connecting to the hearing by Zoom or by telephone. Connecting by Zoom allows an observer to watch and listen to the hearing. Connecting by telephone allows an observer to listen to the hearing. Observers need not seek the permission of the panel or the presiding judge to join the hearing by telephone.
  2. To connect to the hearing by video, observers can either click on the Zoom link for the hearing or go to https://join.zoom.us and enter the meeting/webinar ID and password.
  3. To connect to the hearing by phone, observers can either dial the telephone number for the hearing that contains their preferred area code or dial the toll-free number for the hearing. Observers connecting by phone must enter the meeting/webinar ID and password when prompted.
  4. Observers can download or subscribe to Zoom at https://zoom.us/. It is not necessary to purchase a subscription to Zoom. Observing a hearing scheduled by the Court of Appeal is free.
  5. User tutorials for Zoom are available at https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206618765-Zoom-Video-Tutorials.
  6. If an observer experiences technical difficulties with Zoom, they should consult the Zoom Help Center at https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-usas Zoom is a third-party remote appearance service.

E. Privacy Information for Observers

  1. Except in inmate appeals (i.e., appeals brought by persons who are in custody at the time the notice of appeal is filed and are not represented by counsel), when an observer connects by Zoom or by telephone to a hearing, the other participants and observers will not be able to see them. The judge(s), parties making submissions, and court staff involved in the hearing will be able to see all observers’ screen names (if connecting by Zoom) or telephone area codes and the last three digits of their telephone numbers (if connecting by telephone). No one else will see this information.
  2. When an observer connects by Zoom or by telephone to an inmate appeal, if their camera or microphone is turned on, all participants and observers in the hearing will be able to see or hear them; however, the court will typically ask observers to turn off their cameras and mute their microphones. Whether or not an observer’s camera is off or microphone is muted, the observer’s screen name (if connecting by Zoom) or the observer’s telephone area code and the last three digits of their telephone number (if connecting by telephone) will be seen by all participants and observers in the hearing.

V. Bail Matters in the Court of Appeal

  1. This part applies to all bail-related matters, including bail pending appeal applications, applications to vary bail, applications to extend bail, and bail reviews.

A. Filing Materials for Bail Matters

  1. All materials for bail matters should be filed with the court electronically using the following email address: COA.E-file@ontario.ca.
  2. Please include in the subject line of the email:
    1. the title of the proceeding;
    2. the court file number;
    3. the fact that it is an application pertaining to bail; and
    4. a proposed date of hearing.

B. Draft Orders Required

  1. For all bail-related applications, whether contested or on consent, appellant’s counsel should work with Crown counsel to draft proposed conditions for release and submit a draft release order with their application materials.
  2. The draft order must be submitted using the court’s “all-in-one” release order format (see section V.B(a) below).
  3. The draft order must include the proposed conditions that have been agreed on, should the court order release. Any additional conditions that are in dispute between the parties must be identified as such and set out in a separate document.

(a) “All-in-One” Release Order

  1. The Court of Appeal created an “all-in-one” release order in April 2020. Until further notice, the “all-in-one” release order is the only form of release order being used by the Court of Appeal.
  2. A revised version of the “all-in-one” release order was created in October 2021. Counsel should make sure they are using the revised version. Counsel may obtain a sample electronic copy of the revised version of the “all-in-one” release order from the Crown.
  3. Appendix A to the “all-in-one” release order must be completed by the sureties (if any), the appellant, and a judge or the Registrar. No additional forms or orders are required to effect a release.
  4. The “all-in-one” release order allows for releases to be effected through the Court of Appeal without needing to take the order to the Ontario Court of Justice to effect release.

(b) Sureties

  1. If the appellant is proposing a release order with sureties, in addition to providing the names of the sureties and the amount for which each is to be liable (as required by paragraph 22(7)(i) of the Criminal Appeal Rules), counsel are also asked to provide the following additional information on the draft release order about each surety:
    1. full legal name, as depicted on government-issued identification;
    2. date of birth;
    3. home address;
    4. phone number; and
    5. email address (if available).
  2. Surety declarations under section 515.1 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, are not required.
  3. Surety affidavits continue to be required as part of the application materials in accordance with subrule 22(7) of the Criminal Appeal Rules.

(c) Surrender Conditions

(i) Return to Previous Standard Wording

  1. In light of the return to in-person hearings in criminal appeals, effective April 4, 2022, the court is returning to the standard wording of the surrender condition in release orders that requires surrender prior to the appeal hearing. This wording is:

You must surrender into custody at the institution from which you were released by 7:00 a.m. on the day of the hearing of the appeal or by 7:00 a.m. on [insert “sunset date”], whichever is earlier.

  1. The “sunset date” in the standard wording is like an expiry date for a release order, and it helps the court monitor the progress of these appeals. The court encourages the parties to propose a “sunset date” that takes into account the challenges and delays associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. If necessary, applications to extend a “sunset date” should be brought well in advance.
  2. The revised standard wording of the surrender condition remains subject to what an individual judge may decide is appropriate in the circumstances of a particular case.

(ii) New Release Orders

  1. Unless otherwise ordered by a judge, the revised standard wording of the surrender condition set out in paragraph 141 must now be used in all new release orders made by the court on and after April 4, 2022, including release orders made on original applications for release pending appeal, release orders made on applications to extend the surrender date in an existing release order, and release orders made following any other application to vary an existing release order, whether brought by the appellant or the Crown. The only exception is for release orders made on applications for release following an appeal hearing and pending release of a reserved judgment. These release orders are addressed at paragraphs 147-148.

(iii) Existing Release Orders

  1. This Practice Direction does not alter existing release orders. Existing release orders must be complied with.
  2. If an appellant wishes to vary the surrender condition in the appellant’s existing release order to reflect the standard wording set out in paragraph 141, the court encourages the appellant to apply well in advance of the hearing date.

(iv) Release Orders Made on Applications for Release Following an Appeal Hearing and Pending Release of a Reserved Judgment

  1. Where the court reserves its judgment following an appeal hearing, and counsel wishes to immediately apply for bail pending release of the judgment and the Crown is consenting, counsel must have a draft release order ready to submit to the court at the conclusion of the hearing. The draft release order must include the proposed conditions that have been agreed on by the parties in advance of the hearing, should the court order release. Any additional conditions that are in dispute between the parties must be identified as such and set out in a separate document.
  2. Unless otherwise ordered by a judge, the standard wording of the surrender condition that must be included in all orders made on applications for bail pending release of a reserved judgment is:

You must surrender into custody at the institution from which you were released by 7:00 a.m. on the day the judgment is to be released.

(d) Interpreters

  1. If interpreters are required for any of the individuals signing a release order, counsel are to make the necessary modifications to the draft release order to provide for this circumstance.

C. Process for Finalizing Release Order

  1. If the court orders release, the court will name the sureties (if any), and specify the financial obligations and conditions it requires in the release order. If any revisions are required by the court, counsel are to revise the draft release order and then submit it to the court for signing and entering in the records of the court.
  2. Once the release order is signed and entered by the court, Court of Appeal staff will send the order back to counsel for the appellant, who will then immediately facilitate the signing of Appendix A of the release order by the sureties (if any) and the appellant (if out of custody).

(a) Sureties

  1. If the release order has a surety or sureties, each surety must sign Appendix A, and a lawyer licensed by the Law Society of Ontario to practise law in Ontario must verify each surety’s identity and confirm each surety’s signature. Verification of identity and confirmation of signature may be done in person or by remote means, such as Facetime, Skype, etc. Below each surety’s signature, the lawyer must sign as the witness, check the box and explain in the space provided how they verified the surety’s identity and confirmed their signature.
  2. Only a lawyer licensed by the Law Society of Ontario to practise law in Ontario may act and sign as a witness for a surety’s signature on Appendix A.
  3. Once the sureties (if any) have signed Appendix A and a lawyer licensed by the Law Society of Ontario to practise law in Ontario has verified their identities, confirmed their signatures and signed as a witness, the process for finalizing the release order depends on whether the appellant is out of custody (see paragraphs 155-161) or in custody (see paragraphs 162-167).

(b) Out-of-Custody Appellants

  1. If the appellant is out of custody, counsel must also facilitate the signing of Appendix A of the release order by the appellant.
  2. As with sureties, a lawyer licensed by the Law Society of Ontario to practise law in Ontario must verify the identity of the out-of-custody appellant and confirm their signature on Appendix A. Verification of identity and confirmation of signature may be done in person or by remote means, such as Facetime, Skype, etc. Below the out-of-custody appellant’s signature, the lawyer must sign as the witness, check the box and explain in the space provided how they verified the out-of-custody appellant’s identity and confirmed their signature.
  3. Only a lawyer licensed by the Law Society of Ontario to practise law in Ontario may act and sign as a witness for an out-of-custody appellant’s signature on Appendix A.
  4. The release order, with the signatures of the sureties (if any), the appellant, and the witnesses, must then be re-submitted to the court. Counsel are to make their best efforts to re-submit the order to the court within two days of the order being issued. If counsel expect a delay in re-submitting the order to the court, they are to email the motions clerk at SingleJudgeMotions@ontario.ca.
  5. If the judge or Registrar is satisfied, they will sign the order on the last page of Appendix A and indicate if the order is complete.
  6. If the appellant is out of custody (and therefore their signature is already on the release order), the release order will be complete and in effect upon the judge or Registrar signing it on the last page of Appendix A.
  7. Court of Appeal staff will email copies of the completed order to the appellant’s counsel and to the Crown. The matter will then be concluded.

(c) In-Custody Appellants

  1. If the appellant is in custody, the release order, with the signatures of the sureties and the witnesses, must be re-submitted to the court. Counsel are to make their best efforts to re-submit the order to the court within two days of the order being issued. If counsel expect a delay in re-submitting the order to the court, they are to email the motions clerk at SingleJudgeMotions@ontario.ca.
  2. If the judge or Registrar is satisfied, they will sign the order on the last page of Appendix A and indicate that the order requires the appellant’s signature.
  3. After the judge or Registrar signs the order on the last page of Appendix A, they will send the order to the institution in which the appellant is detained.
  4. The in-custody appellant must sign Appendix A, and a witness at the institution in which the appellant is detained (need not be a lawyer) must verify the identity of the in-custody appellant and confirm their signature. Below the in-custody appellant’s signature, the witness at the institution must sign as the witness, check the box and explain in the space provided how they verified the in-custody appellant’s identity and confirmed their signature.
  5. The release order will be complete and in effect upon the signing of Appendix A by the appellant and the witness at the institution (their signatures are required on the second-to-last page of Appendix A).
  6. The institution must send the completed order back to the court immediately after the appellant is released. Court of Appeal staff will send copies to counsel for the appellant and the Crown upon receipt.

(d) Working Hours of Motions Clerk

  1. The motions clerk works from Monday to Friday, except holidays, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Release orders submitted to the court for finalizing after 4:30 p.m. will be processed by the motions clerk the next day that is not a holiday.

VI. Consolidation and Revocation of Prior Practice Directions and Notices

  1. This Consolidated Practice Direction Regarding Proceedings in the Court of Appeal During the COVID-19 Pandemic updates, consolidates and revokes the following practice directions and notices regarding COVID-19 effective March 29, 2021:
    1. Practice Direction Concerning Public and Media Remote Observation of Oral Hearings During the COVID-19 Pandemic (January 25, 2021);
    2. Practice Direction Regarding the Electronic Conduct of Matters During the COVID-19 Pandemic (October 26, 2020) [revised December 16, 2020];
    3. Notice Regarding the Scheduling of In-Person and Remote Appeals (November 16, 2020);
    4. Notice of Public Counter Services (October 29, 2020);
    5. Notice Regarding Videoconference Appearance Technology (Zoom) (July 6, 2020);
    6. Amended Practice Direction Concerning Manner of Service, Inmate Appeal Books, and Orders for Release of Electronic Exhibits in Criminal Matters Given the Exceptional and Evolving Circumstances Concerning COVID-19 (June 25, 2020);
    7. Practice Direction Concerning the Reinstatement of Times Prescribed in Criminal Proceedings in the Court of Appeal for Ontario (June 25, 2020);
    8. Practice Direction Concerning the Reinstatement of Times Prescribed in Civil Proceedings in the Court of Appeal for Ontario (June 25, 2020);
    9. Practice Direction Concerning the Reinstatement of Times Prescribed in Proceedings Arising Under the Provincial Offences Act in the Court of Appeal for Ontario (June 25, 2020);
    10. Practice Direction Concerning Revised Court of Appeal Release Order Form for Use Only During the Exceptional and Evolving Circumstances Concerning COVID-19 (April 20, 2020);
    11. Practice Direction Concerning Applications for Bail Pending Appeal at the Court of Appeal for Ontario Given the Exceptional and Evolving Circumstances Concerning COVID-19 (April 5, 2020); and
    12. Notice Regarding Videoconference and Teleconference Appearance Technology (CourtCall) (March 27, 2020).

September 13, 2022
Associate Chief Justice J. Michal Fairburn


Appendix A: Amendments

Appendix B: Naming Conventions for Electronic Materials

Appendix C: Best Practices for Zoom Appearances

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