Protocol for In-Person Hearings During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The following procedures will apply to in-person hearings:

  • Everyone entering the courthouse will be required to complete the Ontario Courthouse Health Screening process available at this link. Parties should review these questions online before traveling to the courthouse to ensure they will be able to enter the building. Parties may complete the screening online and show the results to security or they may complete the screening at the courthouse.
  • Parties will be provided with a Zoom Link for in-person proceedings prior to the hearing. In the event they are unable to attend in person because they would not pass the Ontario Courthouse Health Screening process or for any other reason, they should attend the proceeding remotely, using the Zoom link.
  • Public health or other considerations may make it necessary to convert an in-person proceeding to an online proceeding. Parties should be prepared to argue the appeal online if necessary and should expect the proceeding to proceed online on the same day and time as it had been scheduled to proceed as an in-person proceeding.
  • Judges will be gowned for in-person proceedings and counsel are also encouraged to gown, even if attending remotely. The robing rooms at the Law Society of Ontario and the courthouse are currently closed. We recommend that counsel arrive at the courthouse wearing court apparel, putting on their gowns at the courthouse. Coat racks will be made available.
  • All materials for the appeal must be filed electronically.
  • Parties may file a printed copy of an Oral Hearing Compendium for each member of the panel. However, even if printed copies of an Oral Hearing Compendium are used, an electronic copy of the compendium must also be served and filed. Electronic and printed compendiums must be filed five days in advance of the hearing in accordance with paragraphs 25-27 of the Consolidated Practice Direction Regarding Proceedings in the Court of Appeal During the COVID-19 Pandemic available at this link.
  • There are video monitors in each courtroom that will permit judges and parties to view any parties attending by Zoom. Because these monitors are used to show Zoom attendees, simultaneous screen sharing is not available. Judges and the parties will have access to all filed electronic documents on their own computers.
  • Two stationary video cameras will be mounted in the courtroom, permitting remote participants and observers to view the proceedings.
  • Courtroom attendance is limited because of health and safety precautions. In-person attendance will be limited to the parties’ legal representatives who will be making oral submissions. Access for observers, including clients and the media, will be provided by Zoom, subject to any privacy restrictions identified by the Court. Instructions for obtaining access to observe a hearing by Zoom can be found at Part IV of the Consolidated Practice Direction Regarding Proceedings in the Court of Appeal During the COVID-19 Pandemic available at this link.
  • A Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form, sent in advance to parties by the Appeal Scheduling Unit, must be filed with the Intake Office. Parties should indicate on the counsel slip whether legal representatives will be appearing in person or remotely. Persons not identified on the Counsel Slip as attending the appeal in person are not permitted in the courtroom. Observers, including clients and counsel who are not making submissions, should not be noted on the counsel slip. The Counsel Slip is available at this link.
  • Health and safety requirements only permit one legal representative per podium to sit at the counsel table. Any additional legal representatives must sit in the body of the courtroom unless and until they are required to make submissions. Due to distancing requirements, space is limited to a maximum of 6 to 10 legal representatives, depending on the courtroom.
  • Everyone entering the courthouse will be required to wear a mask unless they have a medical exemption or fall into one of the other categories that exempt people from the requirement to wear a mask in an Ontario courthouse. Persons addressing the Court may remove their mask when making submissions.
  • There are hand sanitizing stations throughout the courthouse. Hearing participants must sanitize their hands before entering a courtroom.
  • Persons attending the hearing should not arrive at the courthouse more than thirty minutes prior to the scheduled start of the hearing. After robing, they are required to go directly to the assigned courtroom and remain in their designated space in the courtroom unless exiting the courtroom.
  • All persons in the courtroom are encouraged to remain at their designated seats in the courtroom during recesses except for the purpose of using washrooms or at the lunch break.
  • All persons must maintain a 2-metre distance from one another, unless separated by a plexiglass barrier. Persons entering or leaving their seats must do so in an organized fashion that allows the 2-metre distance to be maintained.
  • Attendees may converse with each other if the 2-metre distance requirement is respected. Confidential conversations among legal representatives may have to be conducted by email or text message to maintain this distance. Wi-Fi is available in the courthouse.
  • Water will not be provided in the courtrooms. Attendees may bring their own water bottles. (Note: public drinking water is not available in the courthouse.)
  • At the close of the hearing, a court staff member will invite attendees to exit the courtroom in a manner that respects physical distancing.
  • Nothing can be left in the courtroom overnight. Attendees must ensure that they take all their belongings when leaving the courtroom because there will be no ability to recover lost items left behind.
  • There is no access between the Osgoode Hall Courthouse and 361 University or the Law Society of Ontario. The Osgoode Hall Dining Room and the robing rooms are closed. The Great Library cannot be accessed from the courthouse and can only be accessed through the Law Society of Ontario by entering through the Law Society entrance at the east side of Osgoode Hall.
  • Washrooms and elevators are limited to one person at a time.
  • Any accessibility-related accommodation requests pertaining to in-person appearances should be sent to the Court’s Accessibility Coordinator at coa.registrar@ontario.ca.
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