Home » CaseLines » CaseLines Hearings Tips for Counsel and Self-represented Parties

CaseLines Hearings Tips for Counsel and Self-represented Parties

print friendly

You’ve received an email from CaseLines advising you to upload documents for your upcoming hearing into CaseLines. What now? Here are some tips to help you work with CaseLines.

Support

See our Frequently Asked Questions document under the main CaseLines support area on our website.  The CaseLines “Support” page is available 24/7, accessible even without having to register.

For assistance with technical issues, please contact Thomson Reuters technical support at 1-800-290-9378 and select either “CaseLines” or “Evidence Sharing” when you reach the directory, or email decsupport@thomsonreuters.com. Support is available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Monday to Friday).

The Ministry of the Attorney General’s Court Services Division Contact Centre is now offering a general support hotline as additional help for self-represented litigants. The hotline directs self-represented litigants to a directory of support options. CaseLines is option 4 on the menu. Self-represented litigants will be able to call the hotline at 1-800-980-4962 or info.CaseLines@ontario.ca .

Pre-Hearing Uploading and Preparation

Tip 1 – Register and bookmark CaseLines (Ontario)

If you haven’t done so already, the first step will be to register as a CaseLines user through the CaseLines (Ontario) website. Click on the link in the email you received directing you to CaseLines and fill in the required information on the registration page. You can also register in advance by visiting: https://ontariocourts.caselines.com/ and clicking on “Register” at the top right corner. You may want to bookmark this website so that you return to the Ontario version of CaseLines and not another province or country’s version of CaseLines.

Tip 2 – File first, upload second

After you have filed your documents with the court through Family Submissions Online (FSO), email, or in-person, and the documents have been accepted by the court, upload your documents into CaseLines. This should be done at least 5 business days prior to your court date (or later IF permitted by the applicable rules).

Important – Uploading to CaseLines is mandatory so that the judge has access to your material when preparing for the hearing. Material that is not uploaded into CaseLines will likely not be reviewed in advance.

Tip 3 – Invite other lawyers and legal assistants

Lawyers can provide other professionals access to their cases in CaseLines. You can do so by locating the case (found on your View Case List screen) and selecting Update Case. Next, click on the People tab found in the case file and then on Invite New Participant. Enter the participant’s email address and select the bundles you would like to provide them access to (e.g. the event and Orders and Endorsements bundles). Once you click Invite, an automated CaseLines email will be sent to the person containing a link to the case.

If you have a lawyer representing you, an invitation will be sent to them so they can upload documents on your behalf.  If you want access to your case in CaseLines, ask your lawyer to send you an invitation by email.

If you are a self-represented litigant and would like to grant another person access to your CaseLines file, you will need to ask the judge to grant the access.

Tip 4 – Name and number your documents

CaseLines uses terms such as sections and bundles to indicate where your uploaded documents should be directed to. To upload into CaseLines, you must save your document using the following file naming protocol:

  • Document type (including the form number in family cases),
  • Type of party submitting the document,
  • Name of the party submitting the document (including initials if the name is not unique to the case), and
  • Date on which the document was created or signed, in the format DD-MMM-YYYY (e.g. 12-JAN-2021).

It is important that the document naming protocol is followed so that uploaded materials can be easily accessed by the parties and judge.  If documents are not named according to the naming protocol, the judge may decide to review only those documents that comply with the protocol and may decide to reschedule your hearing to another day.

You can control the order in which your documents appear, therefore please add a number at the beginning of the document name (i.e. 1. Case Conference Brief 17A– Respondent – Smith – 01-JAN-2021, then 2. Certificate of Financial Disclosure 13A – Respondent – Smith – 01-JAN-2021). If you upload a new document later (e.g. during the hearing), you will want to add it at the end of your list so that it does not change the order and page numbers that have been allocated to documents that have already been uploaded. If your documents are not appearing numerically, please contact staff so that they can change the settings in your file.

Examples of Named and Numbered Documents for a Case Conference:

  1. Case Conference Brief 17A – Applicant – Smith – 01-JAN-2021
  2. Certificate of Financial Disclosure 13A – Applicant – Smith – 01-JAN-2021
  3. Financial Statement 13 – Applicant – Smith – 01-JAN-2021
  4. Affidavit of Service 6B – Applicant – Smith – 06-JAN-2021

Tip 5 – Upload documents individually to the appropriate event bundle if they do not contain hyperlinks to other documents

After accessing your case in CaseLines, you will see a list of event bundles (subfolders) in your case. Before each event, court staff will rename an event bundle and provide you with access to the bundle for the event. For example, if a case conference has been scheduled, court staff will provide you with access to the case conference bundle. You would also have access to previous event bundles as well as the case conference bundles. Upload your documents into the correct event bundle. This makes it easy for the judge to review the right documents before the upcoming event.

To upload documents, click on the “Sections” tab in the case file, find your designated section and select “Update Documents”.

Generally speaking, you should upload each document separately. For further clarity, you must upload your Case Conference Brief 17A in accordance with the naming protocol above and then upload your Affidavit of Service 6B separately.  You should not upload one file containing the two documents. This applies to proposed exhibits at trial (or another event) or documents contained in a motion record. This will ensure that all of your documents are organized and easily accessible for your hearing. Each document will be listed in the table of contents found on the left-hand of the “Review” screen.

Affidavits with attached exhibits, and Books of Authorities, are the exceptions to this general rule. Affidavits with attached exhibits should be uploaded as one PDF document with hyperlinks from the affidavit to the exhibits for ease of reference. Similarly, where a Book of Authorities is provided to the Court, it should be uploaded as a single PDF document with a table of contents hyperlinked to the cases contained within it. This will assist the judge in easily locating the exhibits and/or case law.

When uploading a document to CaseLines ensure the document is under 500 pages in length.  This will allow you to avoid issues with your document freezing while scrolling during your hearing.  Large documents, such as a book of authorities that is over 500 pages in length, should be broken down into Volumes (e.g. Book of Authorities Vol. 1; Book of Authorities Vol. 2).

Tip 6 – Upload your documents in a single PDF to keep your internal hyperlinks

CaseLines will retain internal hyperlinks within a document provided those hyperlinks link to a place within the same document. Sometimes it is preferable to upload documents together in one large PDF to retain internal hyperlinks, but this can make it difficult for the judge to locate the documents in CaseLines. In order to upload all documents in one PDF to retain internal hyperlinks, and also display the names of each document contained within it for ease of reference,  create a “first-level bookmark” for each document within the PDF using the naming convention set out in Tip 4.

Next, upload your PDF into CaseLines by clicking on the “Sections” tab in the case file, finding your designated section and selecting “Upload Documents”. On the Upload Documents page, select the “Upload Bookmarked PDF” checkbox. Selecting “Upload Bookmarked PDF” will prompt CaseLines to detect the first-level bookmarks and split them into separate documents. These newly separated documents will be organized numerically in the table of contents found on the Review Screen. The hyperlinks within these documents will remain intact.

For example, when uploading a motion record with internal hyperlinks, create a first-level bookmark for each document contained within the motion record so they will be displayed in the CaseLines list of documents on the left-hand of the “Review” screen. Following these steps will ensure that your documents are organized and easily accessible for your hearing.

Please note that the Bookmarked PDF function should not be used for affidavits with exhibits and Books of Authorities, as they should not be split into separate documents. Please refer to Tip 5 for more information on affidavits with exhibits and Books of Authorities.

Tip 7 – Create an index of key documents listing CaseLines-generated document and page numbers

After uploading your documents into CaseLines, you may want to create a document containing an index of the documents that you will be relying on at the hearing along with the CaseLines-generated document and page numbers (e.g. A13). If you add an index of key documents onto CaseLines in advance of the hearing, the judicial official can refer to it when preparing for the event.

Hearing Tips

Tip 8 – View a list of upcoming events and access video conference links

You can see your upcoming events in CaseLines by clicking “View Hearings” at the top of the screen. This page provides a list of your upcoming hearings and will include the Zoom coordinates for virtual hearings, if applicable, or other hearing related information.

If a lawyer wants to share the Zoom coordinates with a client, click on the Video Conference Link button in the case on CaseLines, copy and paste the link into your communication with the client.

Tip 9 – Navigate bundles

As a best practice, court staff will provide you with access to your event hearing bundle (e.g.  Motion Case Conference) and the Endorsements, Orders and Judgments bundle. You will receive access to more bundles if other events are scheduled and created through CaseLines.

You can navigate through your bundles on the Review screen by selecting the drop-down feature located on the top left corner of the screen.

Tip 10 – Refer the judge to a specific page of a document

If you or the other party provide the judge with the CaseLines-generated document and page number (e.g. B17), you can type it into the Find Page Number field under the “Find” tab at the top of the screen and all participants will be taken directly to that page. Another way to direct a judge to a specific page of a document is to open the document in CaseLines, click on “Find” at the top of the screen, and then click on “Direct Others to Page”. This will send a message to all other people who have been given access to the case so that they can click on the message and be taken to the same page.

Tip 11 – Use presenter mode to assist in your presentation during the hearing

You can use presenter mode to assist other participants in following your presentation during the hearing. This allows you to display specific pages and areas of a document on CaseLines for all participants.

To use this feature, click on the Present Tab and click Start Presentation to allow you to become the presenter. A red border will appear around the review pane, indicating that you are in presenter mode. Ask other people at the hearing to click on the Present tab and then click Follow Presenter and choose your name. You will be able to see who’s following you by the list of names displayed at the top of the screen.

Tip 12 – Return to the last-viewed page of a document previously opened

If you have been moving between documents in CaseLines and want to return to the last-viewed page, click on “Find” at the top of the screen to make additional feature buttons appear, and then click on “Show the Previous Page”.

Tip 13 – View more than one CaseLines document on your screen

You can open multiple documents in CaseLines by clicking “View” at the top of the screen to make the additional feature buttons appear, and then click on “Open in New Tab”. This will open another tab in your browser that will allow you to view the documents. You can also open two documents side by side on CaseLines by clicking on the Dual Panes Icon in the top right corner of your reading window (small overlapping rectangles). This will open a second reading pane so that you can read two documents side by side.

Tip 14 – Highlight or make notes on your documents using the Notes function

You can highlight or make notes on your documents in CaseLines using the Notes function. These functions are discussed in the CaseLines guide regarding Notes. To access the guide, login to CaseLines and then visit the following: https://caselines.freshservice.com/support/solutions/articles/2000024313-15-notes.

A complete list of CaseLines guides is available at the following website: https://caselines.freshservice.com/support/solutions/folders/2000062769.

Tip 15 – Upload your recent endorsements and orders

Your case will have an Endorsements, Orders and Judgments bundle. If you have an ongoing family law case you will need to upload copies of previous orders and endorsements into this sub-bundle if they have not already been uploaded. This should include any order that remains in effect as well as any relevant endorsements a judge may have issued as part of the case before the court.

Please remember to save the document in accordance with the protocol (i.e. instead of Order, save as Order of Smith J. 01-FEB-2021).

Tip 16 – Use of Draft Orders Uploaded to CaseLines

Judges can download and amend draft orders that a party or their counsel have uploaded into CaseLines.  You may therefore want to include draft orders with your materials so that it may be signed by the judge and uploaded into CaseLines by court staff at the conclusion of the hearing.

Tip 17 – Who do I contact if the CaseLines platform is not working properly?

If you need support to resolve technical issues, please call 1-800-290-9378 and select either “CaseLines” or “Evidence Sharing” when you reach the directory, or email decsupport@thomsonreuters.com.

Technical support provided by Thomson Reuters is available from 8 AM to 5 PM (Monday – Friday) Eastern Time Zone.