Practice Directions, Notices and Guidelines

Serving and filing documents

Documents in criminal proceedings in the Ontario Court of Justice must be served and filed in accordance with the Court’s Practice Direction: Serving and Filing Criminal Court Documents.

Serving and Filing Criminal Court Documents Practice Direction:
Read full practice direction


Mode of appearance

At certain stages of a criminal proceeding, accused persons and counsel may be permitted to attend court via telephone or Zoom. The Court’s Revised re Mode of Appearance for Ontario Court of Justice Criminal Proceedings list what modes of appearance are permitted at each stage of criminal proceedings.

Revised Guidelines re Mode of Appearance for Ontario Court of Justice Criminal Proceedings:
Read full guideline


Remote appearance code of conduct

The Remote Appearance Code of Conduct  applies to all individuals who are required or permitted to appear before the Ontario Court of Justice remotely and ensures that these appearances occur without interruption and in accordance with the level of decorum expected in Ontario Court of Justice proceedings

Remote Appearance Code of Conduct:
Read full code of conduct


Use of electronic devices in court

The Court’s Protocol Regarding the Use of Electronic Communication Devices in Court Proceedings applies to all court users and the media. It sets out rules for the use of cell phones and computers in court proceedings.

Use of Electronic Communication Devices in Court Proceedings:
Read full protocol


Use of pronouns for lawyers and parties

The Notice to the Profession and Public on Pronouns for Lawyers and Parties governs the use of pronouns in in-person, virtual or hybrid hearings.

Use of Pronouns for Lawyers and Parties:
Read full notice

Accessing court proceedings and records

Access to court proceedings

Members of the public should consult the Court's policy on Public Access to Court Proceedings.

Members of the media should consult the Court's policy on Media access to in-person, video or teleconference court proceedings.

Public Access to Court Proceedings:
Read full policy
Media access to in-person, video or teleconference court proceedings:
Read full policy

Access to digital audio recordings of court proceedings

Members of the public should consult the Court's policy on Access to Digital Audio Recordings.

Members of the media should consult the Court's policy on Media Access to Court Recordings, and the Joint Courts' List of Designated Media for Access to Digital Court Recordings.

Forms 

  • Litigants/accused and members of the media should complete the Request Form/Undertaking to the Court for Access to Digital Court Recordings: Word, PDF.

  • Lawyers and paralegals should complete the Request Form/Undertaking of Counsel/Licensed Paralegal of Record to the Court for Access to Digital Court Recordings:  Word, PDF.

Useful resources:

Request Form/Undertaking to the Court for Access to Digital Court Recordings: Word, PDF

Request Form/Undertaking of Counsel/Licensed Paralegal of Record to the Court for Access to Digital Court Recordings: Word, PDF

Court records

The Ministry of the Attorney General manages court records. Its Court Services Division Policies and Procedures on Public Access to Court Files, Documents and Exhibits explain which court documents are available to the public and how to access them.

Court Services Division Policies and Procedures on Public Access to Court Files, Documents and Exhibits:

Read full policy

Bail court

Bail hearings

Bail hearing procedures are set out in the Ontario Court of Justice Protocol Re Bail Hearings

Applications to vary release orders and police undertakings

Individuals may apply to vary their release conditions by electronic means rather than attending at the courthouse. The Court’s Consent Variation Procedures for Release Orders and Police Undertakings govern consent variations of release conditions.

Individuals who have been released by the Court should use the Application for Consent Variation of Bail Form.

Individuals who have been released by the police should use the Application for Consent Variation of Police Undertaking Form.

Northeast Region Pilot

The Court is implementing a pilot project in the Northeast region to enhance access to fair and timely bail proceedings by reducing the number of administrative appearances in bail court. For more information, please see Practice Direction: Bail Court Waiver of Appearance and Bring Forward Protocol.

Bail Hearings Protocol
Read Full Protocol

Consent Variations Procedures for Release Orders and Police Undertakings
Read full procedures


Case management court

Case management court

The procedures for appearing in case management courts are set out in the Court’s Practice Direction: Criminal Case Management Appearances.

To ensure an accused person’s constitutional right to a trial within a reasonable time is respected, the Ontario Court of Justice has established a Jordan-Compliant Trial Scheduling procedure. Under this practice direction, parties will be expected to have completed all intake (case management) steps and be ready to resolve the case or schedule a trial or preliminary inquiry within six months of the Information sworn date.

Criminal Case Management Appearances:
Read full practice direction
Jordan-Compliant Trial Scheduling:
Read full practice direction
12-Week Adjournment from First Appearance for Counsel Matters – Toronto and Brampton only

In accordance with a Practice Direction implemented in Toronto and Brampton, counsel matters will be adjourned from the first or second appearance in case management court for a standard 12-week adjournment. By the end of this adjournment period, the Crown and defence counsel should have completed the intake (case management) steps in the case and be ready to resolve the case or set a trial or preliminary inquiry date. Reducing administrative appearances for counsel matters will shorten case management court dockets and permit the court to spend more time addressing those matters which require more active case management.

12-Week Adjournments:
Read full practice direction
Appearances by accused persons who are in custody

In accordance with the Court's Practice Direction: Waiver of Personal Attendance and Request for Adjournment/Remand by Accused Person in Custody, accused persons who are in custody may waive their right to appear personally before the Court to request an adjournment, by instructing defence counsel to complete and file the Waiver and Request for Adjournment / Remand in Accused Person’s Absence Form on their behalf.

Waiver of Personal Attendance and Request for Adjournment / Remand by Accused Persons in Custody:
Read full practice direction
Waiver and Request for Adjournment Form
Appearances by accused persons who are not in custody

Accused persons who are represented by counsel and who have filed an Enhanced Designation of Counsel may have their matters adjourned, without the accused personally appearing, in accordance with the procedure set out in the Practice Direction: Enhanced Designations of Counsel. They may do so using the Sample Enhanced Designation of Counsel Form

Practice Direction - Enhanced Designations of Counsel:
Read full practice direction
Sample Enhanced Designation of Counsel Form

Judge-led intensive case management court (JICMC)

The Court’s Practice Direction: Judge-led Intensive Case Management Courts explains the role of judge-led intensive case management courts (JICMCs) and provides links to the connection information for these courts.

Judge-led Intensive Case Management Courts:
Read full practice direction

Judicial pre-trials

Judicial pre-trials are held by videoconference, unless otherwise directed by the presiding judge. In accordance with the Revised Guidelines re Mode of Appearance for Ontario Court of Justice Criminal Proceedings, self-represented accused who lack technology will be accommodated with an in-person judicial pre-trial.

Judicial Criminal Pre-trial Best Practices and Rule 4.2 of the Criminal Rules of the Ontario Court of Justice provide more information about judicial pre-trials.

Revised Guidelines re Mode of Appearance for Ontario Court of Justice Criminal Proceedings:
Read full guideline

Useful resources:


Preliminary inquiries and trials

To ensure an accused person’s constitutional right to a trial within a reasonable time is respected, the Ontario Court of Justice has established a Jordan-Compliant Trial Scheduling procedure. Under this practice direction, the Court will offer parties a trial date that is expected to result in the case being completed within 15 months of the Information sworn date. Parties will be expected to have completed all intake (case management) steps and be ready to resolve the case or schedule a trial or preliminary inquiry within six months of the Information sworn date.

Additionally, there is a remote procedure for setting dates for preliminary inquiries and trials, using a combination of an online Trial / Preliminary Inquiry Scheduling Form and a trial scheduling conference with the Trial Coordinator’s office. Details of this procedure are found in the Procedure for Scheduling of Criminal Trials and Preliminary Inquiries.

Once dates have been set, the Court’s Practice Direction: Trial Dates directs that the preliminary inquiry or trial proceed on those dates.

The Court’s Practice Direction: Section 11(b) Charter Applications is intended to provide for fair, timely and efficient determination of s. 11(b) Charter applications. This includes hearing the application at least four months before trial so that, if the application is granted and a stay of proceedings is imposed, the scheduled trial dates may be utilized for other matters. To facilitate scheduling, the defence is required to advise, at the time a trial date is set, whether it intends to bring a s. 11(b) application; if a trial is scheduled to be heard beyond the Jordan timeline (i.e. more than 18 months from the Information sworn date), a s. 11(b) application will be scheduled unless the defence confirms on the record they are not bringing it.

Practice Direction: Jordan-Compliant Trial Scheduling:
Read full practice direction
Procedure for Scheduling of Criminal Trials and Preliminary Inquiries:
Read full practice direction
Practice Direction: Trial Dates:
Read full practice direction
Practice Direction: Section 11(b) Charter Applications:
Read full practice direction
Useful resources:

Peace bonds and private prosecutions

Peace Bonds

Peace bond applications in the Ontario Court of Justice are explained in the Guide for Applying for a Peace Bond and related Peace Bond Application Form.

Private Prosecution Applications

If you wish to apply to lay a charge against another person, you should review the Guide for Applying for a Private Prosecution and the Private Prosecution Application Form.


Local Practice Directions

Certain practice directions apply only to local courts. These are listed below:

Many individual courthouses also have protocols that are applicable to that court alone. These protocols cover subjects such as any special arrangements for those appearing in court for the first time, or the process for obtaining a judicial pre-trial.

Contact the local courthouse directly to find out more about local courthouse protocols:
Ontario Courthouse Contacts

Ontario Court of Justice