Home » COVID-19 Notices and Updates (Updated September 17, 2020) » Notice to the Legal Profession and the Public regarding the process of electronically submitting documents at the Ontario Court of Justice (updated August 10, 2020)

Notice to the Legal Profession and the Public regarding the process of electronically submitting documents at the Ontario Court of Justice (updated August 10, 2020)

print friendly

The Ontario Court of Justice has modified procedures and practices as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court has temporarily restricted the type of proceedings that may be brought before the Court. For detailed information about these temporary procedures and practices, including details about which types of matters the Court is currently hearing, please refer to the family and criminal notices on the COVID-19 Notices and Updates page on the Ontario Court of Justice website.

To support physical distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19, the number of people who can attend in a courthouse remains limited. To reduce the need for in-person attendances at the courthouse to file documents, court filings can be submitted electronically. If you are unable to file documents electronically, contact your local courthouse by email or telephone to find out about other options that are available or information about attending your local courthouse. In criminal cases, legal professionals (counsel and agents authorized under s. 800(2) of the Criminal Code) are required to file documents by email, unless otherwise directed by a judicial official.

Instructions for filing documents or submitting requests by email are as follows:

FILING REQUESTS OR DOCUMENTS BY EMAIL FOR CRIMINAL MATTERS

  1. Documents and requests shall be sent by email to the appropriate courthouse. For a list of email addresses, see Ontario Court of Justice – Courthouse Email Addresses.
  2. In order to ensure your request is received and processed by the appropriate court office, the subject line should include the following information, unless otherwise specified in a Practice Direction or Notice issued by the Court:
    • LEVEL OF COURT (OCJ)
    • TYPE OF MATTER (Criminal)
    • INFORMATION NUMBER or ACCUSED NAME
    • TYPE OF DOCUMENT (Bring Forward Request, Trial Application to Exclude Evidence, Other Request)
  3. The body of the email should include the following information if applicable:
    1. The Information file number (if known)
    2. name and date of birth of the accused and charge(s)
    3. details of next scheduled court appearance (date, courtroom and nature of appearance)
      Note: if unsure of the next court date, include details of the last scheduled court appearance
    4. if a particular judicial officer is seized with the matter, the name of the officer.
    5. nature of filing / request (e.g. bring forward request, probation variation)
    6. list and description of documents attached (note: attachments cannot exceed 35MB)
    7. confirmation of service, setting out when and how any other party was served.
    8. name, role (i.e. lawyer, agent, Crown, defence, etc.,) and contact information of the person submitting the request (email and phone number).
  4. Delivery/receipt of a document by email is not confirmation that the document has been accepted by the Court for filing.
  5. Requests to bring an out of custody criminal matter before the Court are subject to approval by a judicial official. If a hearing is scheduled, the lawyer/party will be contacted and provided with details regarding the hearing, including arrangements for remote attendance, e.g. attendance by telephone.
  6. If a hearing is not required (for example, an application to vary a probation condition that the judge decides in chambers), the party/counsel who submits the request and/or documents will be contacted and advised of the Court’s determination.

ELECTRONIC FILING REQUESTS OR DOCUMENTS FOR FAMILY MATTERS

Electronic Filing Options:

Effective August 6, 2020, documents and requests may be submitted electronically in two ways:

1) electronically using Family Submissions Online; or

2) electronically using email to the appropriate courthouse.

Family Submissions Online:

Documents may be filed electronically using the Family Submissions Online portal.

The Family Submissions Online portal will provide a simple method to electronically submit court documents, at every step in a case, in any new or existing family proceeding in the Ontario Court of Justice. Note, however, that there are limitations to documents that may be filed at this time. Please check www.ontario.ca/familyclaims to ensure that your documents may be filed using the portal.

If the court clerk accepts the document for filing or issuance, they are considered filed as per the date indicated on the document.

Counsel and parties must keep any document that was originally signed, certified or commissioned in paper format until the court finally disposes of the matter or if a notice of appeal is not served in the case, the time for serving the notice has expired.

When a document has been filed electronically, it is not necessary to file a paper copy.

Email Filing:

If you cannot file a document using Family Submissions Online, documents and requests may be emailed to the appropriate courthouse.

Filing Requests or Documents by Email for Family Matters:

  1. Determine if your filing, document or request relates to a family matter that falls within the type of matters the Court is currently hearing, as described on the website of the Ontario Court of Justice.
  2. Documents and requests shall be sent by email to the appropriate courthouse. For a list of email addresses see Ontario Court of Justice – Courthouse Email Addresses.
  3. In order to ensure your request is received and processed by the appropriate court office, the subject line should include the following information:
    1. LEVEL OF COURT (OCJ)
    2. TYPE OF MATTER (Family, CYFSA)
    3. FILE NUMBER (for Family matters, indicate NEW if no court file number exists.)
    4. TYPE OF DOCUMENT (Case Conference, Settlement Conference, Trial Management Conference, Combined Conference, Focused Hearing, Motion, Urgent Application, Trial, Other Request)
  4. The body of the email should include the following information if applicable:
    1. court file number (if it is an existing file)
    2. short title of proceeding
    3. list of documents attached (note: attachments cannot exceed 35MB)
    4. type of request
    5. confirmation of service, setting out when and how any other party was served.
    6. name, role (i.e. lawyer, representative, party, etc.,) and contact information of person submitting the request (email and phone number)

Additional Important Information for family matters only:

By submitting documents by email to the court, the member of the legal profession/ party agrees to accept email communication from the court with respect to the proceeding.

A formal affidavit of service does not need to be filed. However, members of the legal profession/ parties should retain a copy of any relevant affidavit(s) of service and/or related documents (e.g. email confirmations) and be prepared to produce it to the Court on request.

The materials should also include any prior orders or endorsements that were issued and that are relevant to the matter.

Where it is not possible to email a sworn affidavit, affidavits may be delivered unsworn, but the affiant must be available to participate in any telephone or videoconference hearing to swear or affirm the contents of the affidavit.

These instructions are subject to direction from a judicial official.

Parties shall only submit documents by email if they are unable to submit documents using Family Submissions Online.

Parties shall not assume that the judge hearing the matter will have access to the entire court file.

Court services will be limited to accepting documents for the types of family matters that the Court is currently hearing, as described on the COVID-19 Notices and Updates page on the Ontario Court of Justice website.

A judge will determine if your matter is urgent or if it falls within the scope of matters as defined on the Ontario Court of Justice website.

If your matter is beyond the scope of matters that will be heard as outlined in COVID-19: Scheduling of Family Matters in the Ontario Court of Justice, the documents which you submitted to the court may not be processed until regular court operations resume.

Note that new applications, unless declared to be urgent by a judge, will not be heard at this time.

Materials sent by email must indicate when and how service on any other party was made. Legal representatives or parties should retain a copy of the relevant affidavit of service and/or related documents (e.g. email confirmations) and be prepared to produce it to the Court on request.

If a judge declared that your matter will be held after the court fully reopens, the documents which you submitted to the court may not be processed until regular court operations resume.

Legal Resources and Assistance

For information about resources that may be able to provide you with legal assistance in connection with your matter, please refer to the criminal and family notices on the COVID-19 Notices and Updates page on the Ontario Court of Justice website.