SUPERSEDED Notice to Profession – Toronto

IMPORTANT NOTICE

This notice has been superseded. Please refer to:  https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/notices-and-orders-covid-19/#REGIONAL_NOTICES for current information.

Toronto Expansion Protocol for Court Hearings During COVID-19 Pandemic

April 2, 2020, revised April 22, 2020

Urgent matters will continue to be heard under the Notice to the Profession dated March 15, 2020. Effective April 6, additional matters will be scheduled for remote hearings by telephone or video conference or heard in writing.

A. Criminal Matters

This protocol applies to in-custody matters and out-of-custody matters. All Criminal matters have been adjourned to June 2, 3, or 4, 2020, pursuant to the order of Chief Justice Morawetz and will be dealt with at that time.

A.1 Judicial Pre-Trial Hearings

  1. Judicial Pretrials (“JPT”) will be conducted on all criminal matters (both in and out of custody)
  2. Counsel (i.e. Crown Counsel, the Federal Crown and Counsel for the defendant) will communicate with each other to confirm that they wish to participate in a JPT. They will then communicate with the appropriate Superior Court Administrative Crown (“Admin Crown”) to schedule the JPT.
  3. Counsel will send an email to the Trial Coordinator’s Office using the following generic email address: CriminalTrialOffice-SCJ-Toronto@ontario.ca. (One counsel will send the email, and the other will be copied).
  4. The trial coordinator will schedule a date and time for the JPT and advise all parties.
  5. The JPT will be assigned to McMahon J., Kelly J., or Forestell J. based upon availability.  These judges will make themselves available between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. for JPT’s each day. (Additional timeslots will be offered if the need arises.)
  6. The Superior Court Admin Crowns (federal or provincial), will email documents required for the pre-trial: synopsis, Form 17, and criminal records, as well as any materials counsel would like the judge to see.
  7. Materials will be emailed to the requisite parties.
  8. The trial coordinator will provide the parties with the teleconference information for the hearing (i.e. telephone contact number and passcode).
  9. The JPT will not be recorded.
  10. Counsel will advise the trial coordinator of the result of the pre-trial upon its completion.  If the matter is to continue, promptly advise of the time and date.

 A.2 Pleas

  1. Pleas on both in-custody and out-of-custody matters will be heard each day at 2:00 p.m. by McMahon J., Kelly J., or Forestell J. (Additional timeslots will be provided, if necessary.)
  2. Counsel will communicate with each other to confirm that a plea is required and contact the Admin Crown.
  3. The Admin Crown will send an email to the Trial Coordinator’s Office using the generic email address CriminalTrialOffice-SCJ-Toronto@ontario.ca and provide all the necessary documentation for the plea.
  4. The trial coordinator will schedule a date and time for the plea and advise all parties.
  5. The Admin Crown will advise the designated contact at the institution so that the inmate can be available to participate in the teleconference. (If the institution cannot accommodate the plea, another date and time may be scheduled.) Toronto typically deals with the following institutions:

Toronto South detention Centre;
Toronto East Detention Centre;
Maplehurst Centre; and
Vanier Institution.

  1. The trial coordinator will contact the Registrar’s Office so that a registrar can be assigned to attend the plea hearing.
  2. The trial coordinator will provide the parties with the teleconference information for the hearing (i.e. telephone contact number and passcode).
  3. The teleconference line must be one that is recorded so that there is a record of the plea.
  4. If requested by the judge, a court reporter may also be directed to record the plea hearing. The trial coordinator will advise the court reporter of the date and time of the hearing.
  5. Once completed, the recording will be available on the DRD system.
  6. The registrar will complete the required forms and obtain the necessary signatures. The documents will be provided to the appropriate institution and interested parties.
  7. The registrar will send the documents to the designated contacts at the various institutions.

A.3 Bail/90-Day Reviews

A.3.1 Consent Releases

  1. Counsel will consult each other about the possibility of a bail/90-day review.
  2. If on consent, there is no need to book a slot for the conduct of the hearing.
  3. Counsel can fill out the paperwork (i.e. the conditions of release and surety declaration – both forms are available electronically from the Admin Crown).
  4. The paperwork will be sent to the Admin Crown who will forward it to trial coordinator’s at CriminalTrialOffice-SCJ-Toronto@ontario.ca and copy the Registrar’s Office: Toronto.SCJ.CRIMINALINTAKE@ontario.ca.
  5. The trial coordinator will assign a judge and a registrar.
  6. The registrar will complete the paperwork and provide it to the parties for their signature. During this time, a written confirmation from counsel that they have ‘witnessed’ the sureties’ signatures will be accepted (whether it be over the phone, via Facetime, Skype, etc.).
  7. It can be sent to either McMahon J. or Kelly J. for execution. However, it should be noted that s. 3(2) of the Criminal Code permits a clerk of the court to sign the document if the Judge makes an order in writing.  3 provides:

3(2)  CLERK OF THE COURT – Unless otherwise provided or ordered, if anything is done from the bench by a court, justice or judge and it is reduced to writing, the clerk of the court may sign the writing.

  1. The signed documentation will be returned to the registrar.
  2. The registrar will provide the signed paperwork to the proper institution. (See para. 12 under the heading “Pleas” for the contact information at the institutions.)
  3. The registrar will send copies to all interested parties.

A.3.2. Contested Hearings

  1. Counsel are to consult each other about the necessity of booking a time for a contested bail / bail review / 90-day review. (It is hoped that in Phase 2, these hearings will be expanded to include other motions where no evidence needs to be called.) Counsel are required to contact the Admin Crowns for the various jurisdictions, which include the following: Downtown, Scarborough, Metro West, North York, Federal, and Guns and Gangs.
  2. Self-represented defendants should be directed to Ms. Maija Martin of the Criminal Lawyers Association. If a self-represented defendant is identified by Mr. Goody during the 90-day set date court on Thursdays, he will advise the Crown from that borough who will then advise Ms. Martin.
  3. Counsel will send an email, requesting a hearing, to the Trial Coordinator’s Office using the generic email address: CriminalTrialOffice-SCJ-Toronto@ontario.ca. (One counsel will send the email, the other will be copied.)
  4. Defence materials are to be emailed to the Admin Crown to effect service. The Admin Crown will forward them to the trial coordinator to effect filing. The Admin Crown will also ensure any response materials are filed and copied to the defence.
  5. The trial coordinator will provide a date and time for the hearing once defence materials have been filed. Counsel must file all materials by 10:00 am on Friday if they wish to conduct the bail / bail review / 90 day review the following week.
  6. The bail / bail review / 90-day reviews can be heard each day at 10:00 a.m. (four possible slots) and 2:00 p.m. (four possible slots).
  7. A list of the bail /90-day reviews will be provided to McMahon J. and Kelly J. They will assign a judge to hear the bail / 90-day reviews.
  8. They will advise the trial coordinator of the assigned judge.
  9. The trial coordinator will then forward the materials to the assigned judge advising them of the time and date of the review.
  10. The trial coordinator will advise the Registrar’s Office so that a registrar can be assigned to the hearing.
  11. The trial coordinator will also advise the Court Reporter’s Office so that a court reporter can monitor the proceedings.[1]
  12. The trial coordinator will provide the interested parties with the teleconference information (telephone number and passcode).
  13. Counsel should complete the “terms of release” form and circulate it to the other parties in advance of the hearing.
  14. The judge hearing the bail / 90-day review will advise of his or her decision orally and provide a brief written endorsement on a blank indictment page to be attached to the indictment in the future. The registrar will distribute it to the interested parties.
  15. It is anticipated that the sureties will be in the presence of counsel during the call This will be in person or by video. The defendant need not be present for a bail review.[2] A defendant is likely required to be present for a 90-day detention review (by audio or video) pursuant to s. 502.1(1) of the Criminal Code.
  16. Counsel should ensure they have a copy of the photo identification from the proposed sureties.
  17. If counsel wish for their client to be present, they must make arrangements with the appropriate Admin Crown who will contact the institution and make the request. The contact information is set out above.[3]
  18. If released, the registrar will complete the paperwork, scan it and forward it to the parties for signature. As stated above, during this time, we are willing to accept a written confirmation from Counsel that they have ‘witnessed’ the sureties’ signatures (whether it be over the phone via Facetime, Skype, etc.).
  19. The release documents will then be scanned and sent to the judge for signature and returned to the registrar. As stated above, it should be noted that s. 3(2) of the Criminal Code permits a clerk of the court to sign the document if the Judge makes an order in writing. 3 provides:

3(2)  CLERK OF THE COURT – Unless otherwise provided or ordered, if anything is done from the bench by a court, justice or judge and it is reduced to writing, the clerk of the court may sign the writing.

  1. The paperwork will then be forwarded to the various institutions as set out in para. 12 under the heading “Pleas”.

A.3.3 Consent Bail Variations

  1. Counsel should fill out and sign the 10b Form available on the SCJ website under “Forms under the Criminal Proceeding Rules” and forward it to the appropriate Crown.
  2. Crown will review and sign the form.
  3. Sureties sign the form either in the presence of counsel or counsel should provide written confirmation that they have “witnessed” the sureties’ signatures by video.
  4. Counsel should then provide the form to the Registrar’s Office by emailing Court Services at Toronto.SCJ.CRIMINALINTAKE@ontario.ca and the Trial Coordinator’s Office at CriminalTrialOffice-SCJ-Toronto@ontario.ca.

A.4 Interpreters

  1. If an interpreter is required for the hearing (i.e. for a defendant, surety or witness), Crown Counsel/the Federal Crown or Counsel for the defendant shall advise the trial coordinator.
  2. Counsel requiring the interpreter shall advise the trial coordinator of the language, time and date of the proceeding.
  3. The trial coordinator shall advise the Registrar’s Office so that arrangements can be made for the interpreter to be available on the teleconference call.

A.5 Summary Conviction Appeals/Extraordinary Remedies

  1. All summary conviction appeal matters have been adjourned to June 5, 2020 at 9 a.m.
  2. Applications for bail pending appeal should be sent to the designated SCA Crown Attorney Crown Counsel, Ms. Wendy Sabean
  3. Crown Counsel will forward the material to the Trial Coordinator’s Office.
  4. If it is a consent release, the process set out above in A.3.1 will apply.
  5. If the release is not on consent, the process set out above in A.3.2 will apply. Crown Counsel will arrange for the defendant to be available by teleconference at the institution.
  6. Stay of driving prohibitions/sentences should follow the protocol outlined above for bails.
  7. Sabean will also be the contact person for extraordinary remedies.

A.6 Judicial Responsibilities

The following judges will be responsible for inquiries regarding the following subjects going forward:

McMahon J. and Kelly J.: Criminal team leads – long and short trials

Forestell J.:  New long trial pre-trials commencing April 1, 2020.

Akhtar J.:  Summary Conviction Appeals and Special Motions.

If Akhtar J. needs a teleconference line, that must be scheduled through the Trial Coordinator’s Office, as that will reduce the lines available for bail / 90-day reviews.  (For example, we are aware that there is a certiorari application on April 20, 2020.  That will reduce the available teleconference lines that day by one for this hearing.)

Goldstein J.:  MLAT and Extradition.

For example, any MLAT requests should be filed electronically with the Trial Coordinator’s Office and then forwarded to Goldstein J.

Corrick J.:  As usual, Corrick J. will coordinate these matters with Mr. Hank Goody (A.C.A.) and the institution.

If Corrick J. requires additional teleconference lines on any given day, the trial coordinator should be advised because, again, it may affect the teleconference lines available for other hearings.

B. Family Matters

Effective April 6, 2020, some amendments have been made with respect to matters that will be heard by the Toronto Superior Court of Justice – Family, as well as the procedure to be followed to have your matter heard.  Please read the information below carefully as there are some changes to the March 15, 2020 Notice to the Profession.

In addition to the urgent matters that will continue to be heard under the Notice to the Profession dated March 15, 2020, during the first phase expansion of remote hearings, the Toronto Family Team will hear:

  1. Case conferences on urgent matters; and
  2. Consent orders as set out in more detail below.

B.1. List of Urgent and Additional Family Matters that can be Heard  

Effective April 6, 2020, the family matters to be heard have been expanded to include the following:

  1. Urgent family law events as determined by and at the discretion of the presiding judge, or events that are required to be heard by statute will be heard during this emergency period, including but not limited to:
    1. requests for urgent relief relating to the safety of a child or parent (e.g., a restraining order, other restrictions on contact between the parties or a party and a child, or exclusive possession of the home);
    2. urgent issues that must be determined relating to the well-being of a child including essential medical decisions, issues relating to the wrongful removal or retention of a child, failure to comply with existing court orders and parenting plans;
    3. issues regarding the financial stability of the family unit, including for example support or the need for a non-depletion order;
    4. in a child protection case, all urgent or statutorily mandated events including the initial hearing after a child has been brought to a place of safety, CAS appeals, and any other urgent motions or hearings.
  2. Consent Orders to be brought by way of 14B motions; and
  3. Case conferences on any of the issues listed in subparagraph 1 above.

B.2.  Procedure to Bring an Urgent Motion:

  1. Moving parties shall file urgent motion and application materials by email to FamilyTrialOffice-SCJ-Toronto@ontario.ca.
  2. Any materials requiring regular service may be affected by email, without having to obtain consent in advance. Affidavits of service are required with all material filed with the court.
  3. The Court expects parties will only submit brief materials to allow for a fair, timely and summary disposition. Emailed filings cannot exceed 10MB.  If the size of electronically filed material exceeds 10MB, further emails may be sent within the 10MB maximum.  Every effort must be made, however, to limit filed materials to 10MB.
  4. Unless a matter is proceeding ex parte(i.e. without notice to responding parties), filed materials must indicate when and how service on responding parties was made.
  5. Filed materials should include any prior orders or endorsements that were issued and that are relevantto the urgent matter.
  6. The court welcomes counsel and parties to provide draft orders with their motion materials.
  7. Caselaw and other source materials referenced in factum should be hyperlinked. Where hyperlinks are provided, it will not be necessary to file a Book of Authority.
  8. Where it is not possible to email a sworn affidavit, affidavits may be delivered unsworn but the affiant must be able to participate in any telephone or videoconference hearing to swear or affirm the affidavit.
  9. Where possible, bills of costs should be filed along with motion material, if costs are requested by either party on the motion.

B.2.1.  Scheduling an Urgent Hearing

  1. Where a moving party/applicant has filed material to seek an urgent hearing, the trial coordinator will seek direction from a triage judge as to whether the matter is urgent and should be scheduled for a hearing.
  2. If the matter is not urgent, the parties will receive an endorsement from the triage judge explaining the reasons for same.
  3. If the matter is urgent, the parties will receive an endorsement from the triage judge, setting out a date and time for the first hearing of the matter and the judge hearing the matter (“designated judge”). The trial coordinator’s office will provide the parties with the contact information for the conference call or videoconference.
  4. If the matter has been subject to a case conference, as set out below, the conference judge hearing the conference (and not the triage judge) will determine whether the matter is urgent and should proceed to a hearing. The trial coordinator will provide the parties with the date, time and the contact information for the conference call or videoconference for the hearing.
  5. No confirmation form is required prior to the hearing once the parties have confirmed the date and time with the trial coordinator’s office.
  6. The matter will then proceed to be heard by the designated judge.
  7. Matters may be heard and determined in writing, by telephone or videoconference.
  8. Responding materials and all other materials to be relied on at the motion are also to be filed by emailing them to FamilyTrialOffice-SCJ-Toronto@ontario.ca

B.2.2. The Hearing

  1. Where a telephone or videoconference hearing is scheduled, there will be strict time limits imposed for oral submissions, to which parties and counsel are expected to adhere.
  2. Mechanisms will be in place to record a hearing. Counsel and parties may also record a proceeding for their own purposes but only if authorized by the judge, pursuant to section 136(3) of the Courts of Justice Act.
  3. If the matter has not proceeded to a case conference under paragraph B4 below, the designated judge will have the discretion to determine the matter at the first hearing, set the matter down for a hearing at a later date, make an order with respect to filing timelines for responding materials or any other order including an order for costs at the designated judge’s discretion to enable the court to deal with the case justly. Matters may be scheduled to be heard and determined in writing, by telephone or videoconference.

B.3. Procedure to Obtain an Order on Consent (14B Motions)

  1. If the parties have reached an agreement and require an order to be taken out, and they have agreed on the wording of the order, they may file a form 14B motion.
  2. The 14B motion material shall be filed by emailing Toronto.SCJ.FAMILYINTAKE@ontario.ca. NOTE: This is a different email address than the one used for filing urgent motion material.
  3. A draft order approved by both parties must be filed with the materials.
  4. A judge will review the draft order and provided it meets the legislated requirements, will sign the order. The order will be effective, valid and binding from the date it is made in accordance with FLR 25(18) and is enforceable regardless of when it is entered.
  5. The signed order will be returned by email from the Court staff.

B.4. Procedure for Family Case Conferences

  1. Case conferences will be limited to one or two isolated issues in dispute and will be limited to substantive matters, as set out in paragraph B.1. above.
  2. To obtain a case conference date, either party may file a case conference brief, by emailing Toronto.family.caseconferences@ontario.ca. Case conference material may be served by email without having to obtain consent in advance. Parties are required to file affidavits of service.
  3. Case conference briefs are limited to 6 pages in length, double spaced and at least 12-point font size. Anything greater than 6 pages will not be read by the designated judge. Parties are not restricted to or required to use the standard case conference form.
  4. The Court staff will contact the parties with the date and time of the case conference.
  5. The other party’s case conference brief must be filed by emailing the brief and affidavit of service to Toronto.family.caseconferences@ontario.ca before 4 p.m. two business days prior to the case conference. By way of example, if a case conference is scheduled for Thursday, the brief must be emailed and served no later than Tuesday before 4:00 p.m.
  6. No additional confirmation form is required for the case conference.
  7. The judge hearing the case conference will determine if the matter is urgent. If the matter is not urgent, the case conference will be cancelled. The parties will be contacted by the Court staff if cancelled.
  8. Case conferences are limited to one hour, unless specifically extended by the designated judge.
  9. The case conference judge (and not the triage judge) will determine whether the matter should proceed to a hearing. The trial coordinator will provide the parties with the date, time and the contact information for the conference call or videoconference for the hearing before the designated judge. Thereafter the hearing will take place as set out in “The Hearing” under section B2.2 above.
  10. No confirmation form is required prior to the hearing once the parties have confirmed the date and time with the trial coordinator’s office.
  11. Mechanisms may be in place by the court to record a hearing. Counsel and parties may not record case conferences due to the nature of the proceeding.

B.5.  Self-Represented Litigants in Family Matters

  1. Self-represented litigants are expected to comply with the process set out in this Notice.
  2. If litigants need help determining whether their matter is urgent and understanding the resources that are available, they may wish to contact the Law Society of Ontario’s emergency family law referral line at:

Toll-free: 1-800-268-7568
General: 416-947-3310

This service will provide ½ hour of free legal advice, including referrals to other services.

  1. Duty counsel through Legal Aid Ontario is available to provide summary legal advice for family law and Children’s Aid Society matters. As of March 27, 2020, they are waiving the financial eligibility requirements. Duty counsel can be reached at:

Toll-free: 1-800-668-8258
General: 416-979-1446

B.6.  Miscellaneous (interpreters, entering orders, etc.)

  1. If an interpreter is required for any matter, the trial coordinator must be notified when the matter is scheduled.
  2. If, due to the nature of an order, the order needs to be entered forthwith, arrangements should be made with court staff by emailing: Toronto.SCJ.FAMILYINTAKE@ontario.ca.
  3. For all general inquiries, please call (416) 327-2064 or email Toronto.SCJ.FAMILYINTAKE@ontario.ca. Court staff cannot provide legal advice. All inquiries with respect to procedure will be referred to the Court website.

C. Civil Matters

C.1. List Additional Civil Matters that can be Heard

In addition to the urgent matters that will continue to be heard under the Notice to the Profession dated March 15, 2020, during the first phase expansion of remote hearings, the following civil matters will be heard in Toronto:

  1. Select Pre-Trial Conferences; and
  2. Rule 7 applications, Rule 7 motions, and other applications and motions in writing that are proceeding on consent of all parties.

C.2. Select Pre-Trial Conferences

  1. The court will prioritize the hearing of pre-trial conferences that were cancelled between March 16 and May 31, 2020 due to the court closure.
  2. At this time, the Court will hear those cancelled pre-trial conferences in which all counsel and all unrepresented parties confirm in writing that the case is trial-ready including committing that:
    1. all parties and their counsel will attend the pretrial remotely with full intention and authority to settle the case; and
    2. there is no impediment to resolution of the case such as an outstanding expert report, outstanding productions, or other missing evidence that is considered critical to the case to settle.

C.2.1. Scheduling a Pre-Trial Conference

  1. Counsel or a party may request the scheduling of a pre-trial conference for a cancelled pre-trial that is trial-ready by sending a Toronto Civil Pre-Trial Conference Request form signed by all counsel and unrepresented parties to the Court electronically, in searchable PDF format, attached to an email addressed to: Toronto.civil.pretrials@ontario.ca
  2. Once a trial-ready case is scheduled for a pre-trial conference, the parties shall serve and file briefs of no more than ten (10) pages at least five (5) days before the scheduled date. Briefs shall be delivered electronically in searchable PDF format as attachments to an email to the email address set out above.
  3. Expert reports are not to be attached to an email to the Court. Single page summaries of important experts’ reports and copies of only the most vital reports may be provided by hyperlinks to an external, secure database viewer embedded in the email forwarding a party’s pre-trial brief to the Court.
  4. Voluminous records such as pleadings, treatment notes, accident benefit files, hospital records, tax returns, and employment files are not to be filed with the Court by hyperlink or otherwise.
  5. It is not anticipated that the presiding judge will conduct trial management steps at the pre-trial conference. No witness lists are required.
  6. All of the foregoing steps are guidelines only and are subject to variation at the discretion of the Court in appropriate cases. In addition, the Court may also contact counsel to schedule these or other pre-trial conferences at its discretion.

C.3.  Rule 7 applications, Rule 7 motions, and other applications and motions in writing that are proceeding on consent of all parties

  1. Electronic copies of Rule 7 applications, Rule 7 motions, and other applications and motions in writing that are proceeding on consent of all parties may be filed in searchable PDF format as attachments to an email to Toronto.SCJ.CIVILINTAKE@ontario.ca.
  2. Consent forms signed on behalf of all parties must be filed unless counsel provide a written and signed statement representing that a party whose signature cannot be obtained consents to the order sought.
  3. If counsel have filed in-writing motions and applications, including Rule 7 approvals, in hard copies since March 17, 2020, they are advised to re-file electronically.

D. Divisional Court Matters

D.1. Provincewide Protocol applies to all Divisional Court matters

Starting on Monday April 6, 2020, Divisional Court will begin to schedule hearings on non-urgent matters arising throughout the Province of Ontario, subject to available resources.  Set out below is the practice to be observed to schedule a matter in Divisional Court anywhere in Ontario.

Please note that this direction applies to all matters in Divisional Court. The court’s schedule of cases as of the suspension of ordinary court operations is, itself, entirely suspended, and matters will not be heard according to that schedule so long as in-person hearings are suspended.  Only matters scheduled in accordance with this Direction will be heard.  Therefore, a party in a matter that has been scheduled previously for hearing in the coming weeks will have to obtain a new date for hearing following the process set out below, if the party wishes the case to proceed during the suspension of in-person hearings.

D.2.  Scheduling Divisional Court Matters

  1. Any party wishing to schedule a Divisional Court matter shall contact the court through the following email address (with a copy sent to all other parties):  scj-csj.divcourtmail@ontario.ca. Other parties should not respond to the request for scheduling until requested to do so by the court.
  2. Scheduling requests should contain the following information:
    1. Title of Proceedings, file number, and jurisdiction (judicial region) from which the case originates.
    2. The names and email addresses of representatives of the parties (counsel, or self-represented persons).
    3. The nature of the matter to be scheduled (motion, application or appeal) and some brief particulars (for example, “appeal from the final order of Doe J. of the Superior Court of Justice (2019 ONSC 123456) granting judgment of $25,000 in a defamation action” or “judicial review from the Ontario Labour Board decision granting / denying certification”).  The explanation should not be more than a sentence or two in length.  Where the decision below has been reported on CanLII, a citation to that decision should be included.
    4. The estimated time required for the hearing.
    5. A brief explanation of any urgency, time sensitivity, or other factor the party wishes the court to take into account in scheduling.
    6. Whether some or all parties consent to scheduling the matter (consent is not required but will be taken into account).
  3. Matters will be scheduled at the direction and in the discretion of the Divisional Court Administrative Judge or his designate. Court staff will then contact the parties to confirm arrangements for providing file documents to the court in electronic format, and to provide details of the hearing.
  4. Hearings will all be conducted electronically, either by teleconference or by videoconference. Teleconferences will be conducted on court teleconference lines. Videoconferences will be conducted using the application ZOOM. Parties will be required to confirm in advance that they will be able to participate in the hearing using the selected technology.
  5. This direction applies to all Divisional Court matters in Ontario, including panel matters and matters ordinarily heard by single judges in Regions outside Toronto.
  6. For the moment, the Divisional Court is able to hear more than urgent matters, but, given technological and staffing constraints, it is not able to hear a full docket of cases.  Scheduling preference will generally be given as follows:
    1. Where a matter is considered urgent by the Administrative Judge or his designate, the matter will be scheduled to proceed as soon as reasonably possible on a schedule to be fixed by the court.
    2. Where a matter is not urgent, but is time sensitive, in the opinion of the Administrative Judge or his designate, the matter will proceed on a schedule to be fixed by the court, taking account the time sensitivity.
    3. Other matters will be scheduled to be heard in due course, bearing in mind the demand for urgent and time-sensitive matters and the technological and staffing limitations under which the court is operating.  To the extent that it is possible to do so, the length of time the matter has been awaiting a hearing, and the likely delay if the matter is not heard until in-person hearings resume, will be taken into account in prioritizing hearings.

D.3.  Filing Electronic Documents for Hearings

    1. Any matters heard by the court pending resumption of in-person hearings will be heard remotely, and therefore all documents required for the hearing must be available to the court electronically. The requirement of electronic documents applies to all matters, including cases where parties filed paper documents prior to the suspension of ordinary court operations. Divisional Court staff will provide directions to the parties about what will be required and, if necessary, a teleconference may be arranged with the Administrative Judge or his designate for directions respecting what materials are required and how they are to be filed.  In general, the following guidelines will apply:
      1. All documents will be delivered to the court by email at the following address: scj-csj.divcourtmail@ontario.ca.
      2. No individual email can be larger than 10 MB.
      3. Generally, documents should be sent as individual attachments (for example, an affidavit and each of its exhibits should be sent as separate pdf files, each one clearly named to identify it (i.e. “Affidavit of John Doe”, “Exhibit “C” to Affidavit of Jane Doe”), preferably with each page numbered sequentially.
      4. Factums should be filed in Word format.
      5. Books of Authorities are not to be filed. Instead, parties shall, where possible, provide hyperlinks to the CanLII version of cited cases. Parties may file a Brief of Case References that includes single pages or brief portions of cases cited; where this is done the title of the case and headnote (where applicable) should also be provided. The only exceptions to this principle will be references not available on CanLII, such as excerpts from textbooks, foreign law, or Canadian decisions not reported on CanLII.
    2. After the end of the suspension of ordinary court operations, parties will be required to file paper copies of documents provided to the court electroncially pursuant to this Direction, and to pay any applicable court fees for steps that have taken place pursuant to this Direction.

D.4.  Motions in Writing for Leave to Appeal to the Divisional Court

  1. Motions for leave to appeal that have been filed with the court prior to the suspension of in-person hearings generally will not be decided during the current suspension of court operations: the files cannot be made available to judges as matters currently stand.
  2. If a party considers that a pending motion for leave to appeal is urgent or time sensitive, that party may seek a direction from the Administrative Judge or his designate that the motion for leave to appeal proceed forthwith. The party would email the request to the following address: scj-csj.divcourtmail@ontario.ca.This direction applies both to motions for leave to appeal that were initiated prior to the suspension of ordinary court operations, and to motions for leave to appeal arising after the suspension of ordinary court operations. In such cases, the parties will be required to make the materials available to the court electronically.

E. Commercial and Estate List Matters

  1. The procedures set out in the Changes to Commercial List operations in light of COVID-19 (March 16, 2020) for hearing urgent matters continue.
  2. In addition, the Toronto Commercial and Estate List judges will begin to hear the following matters:
    1. Select motions
    2. Select applications
    3. Case Management Conferences
    4. Pre-Trial Conferences
    5. Judicial Settlement Conferences.
  3. The court cannot hear any matters of more than 4 hours’ duration.
  4. All contested matters will be heard by teleconference using ZOOM or another videoconference facility.

F. Class Action Matters

F.1. List of Class Action Matters that can be Heard

The following Toronto class action matters may be heard:

  1. Motions in writing
  2. Case Management Conferences
  3. Select motions

F.2. Motions in writing

Moving parties may file motions in writing by email to the following email address: Toronto.classaction.motions@ontario.ca.

F.3. Case Management Conferences

The party requesting a case conference shall do so in writing by email to the following email address: Toronto.classaction.caseconference.inwritings@ontario.ca. The email message should set out the available dates for the case conference and all the parties that will be attending.

  1. The court will confirm the arrangements for an audio or video case management conference by return email.

F.4. Hearing of Select Motions

  1. Subject to the approval at a case management conference, precertification, certification, and post certification motions may be heard by audio or video conference hearing.
  2. The motion material for a permitted hearing shall be sent by email to the following email address: Toronto.classaction.motions@ontario.ca

G. Urgent Matters heard by Registrars in Bankruptcy

G.1. Urgent matters heard by masters sitting as Registrars in Bankruptcy

  1. In accordance with the Notices to the Profession issued by Chief Justice Morawetz dated March 15, 2020 and April 2, 2020, all regular matters which have been scheduled and are not urgent, or time sensitive, will be adjourned to after June 1, 2020, subject to any further direction from the court.
  2. The masters sitting as Registrars in Bankruptcy will continue to hear and decide urgent and time sensitive matters by teleconference or video conference during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Registrars in Bankruptcy will also hear and decide matters where there are immediate and significant financial repercussions which may result if there is no judicial hearing.  The Registrars will use their discretion to determine whether a matter should be heard urgently.
  3. The Bankruptcy Court scheduling office will continue virtual operations during the suspension of the court’s regular operations.
  4. The party shall email the Bankruptcy Court office at toronto.bankruptcy@ontario.ca with details about a matter they wish to have heard urgently, identifying why the matter is urgent, time sensitive or will result in significant financial repercussions if there is no hearing. The party will also attach a completed request form. The party shall advise of a time estimate for hearing.
  5. Any steps taken by the court or counsel outside the usual procedure due to COVID-19, including proceeding by way of teleconference or videoconference, shall be expressly noted and recorded in the endorsement or order as necessary.

G.2. Conduct of teleconference or videoconference hearings

  1. If the Registrar in Bankruptcy accepts that a matter is to be heard urgently, the Bankruptcy Court office will direct the party to communicate by email with the Registrar who will hear the matter.
  2. The matter will proceed by teleconference or videoconference. The Bankruptcy Court anticipates having teleconference and videoconference lines available, some with recording capabilities. If required, the Registrar may ask counsel to provide videoconference facilities.
  3. Taxations of Statements of Receipts and Disbursement (where a clear Letter of Comment has been received) and Taxation of legal bills are considered urgent and time sensitive and will be heard in writing. If a party wishes a taxation to be heard in writing, the party shall email the materials to the Bankruptcy Court office at toronto.bankruptcy@ontario.ca and request that the taxation be scheduled for the next available date.  The system cannot accommodate large files.  Accordingly, parties shall exercise discretion in determining what materials are necessary.  The party shall undertake to file a hard copy with the Bankruptcy Court office, together with the appropriate filing fee if not already paid, once regular court operations resume. Taxed statements and bills will be scanned and delivered by email to the party upon disposition. 
  4. The Registrars expect counsel to follow the three Cs of the Commercial List: cooperation, communication and use of common sense, particularly in terms of scheduling.

G.3. Materials for hearing

  1. Parties should email the Registrar in Bankruptcy hearing the matter with all relevant materials necessary for the hearing and copy the Bankruptcy Court office at toronto.bankruptcy@ontario.ca. The system cannot accommodate large records.  Accordingly, the parties shall exercise discretion in determining what materials are necessary.  Parties should also consider sending large documents by way of secure file share rather than as attachments.  As set out in the Notice to Profession, caselaw and other source materials referenced in a factum should be hyperlinked.  Where hyperlinks are provided, the parties need not file a Book of Authorities.  The Registrar will ask for further materials if necessary.
  2. Hard copies of the materials, with the appropriate filing fee, shall be filed with the Bankruptcy Court office, once regular court operations resume.

G.4. Affidavits

Parties are directed to the Law Society’s Virtual Commissioning resource as well as the Law Society’s Corporate Statement re: COVID-19 which provides for alternate means of commissioning affidavits. The Bankruptcy Court will accept unsworn affidavits prior to the hearing on the condition that a sworn affidavit is provided prior to the hearing or the affiant is available at the teleconference to swear the contents in accordance with the Notice to the Profession.

G.5. Orders

Finalized draft orders shall be emailed directly to the Registrar in Bankruptcy.  The Registrar will sign the order and send a scanned signed copy to the party.   The order is effective from its date and the order need not be entered.

G.6. Issuing Bankruptcy Applications

  1. The usual process will continue to be followed for issuing bankruptcy applications. The party shall email the Bankruptcy Court office with the application and request issuance, with a hard copy and the appropriate filing fee sent by regular mail that day or the following day.  A date for the hearing of the bankruptcy application to proceed in writing may be obtained on request by email to the Bankruptcy Court office at toronto.bankruptcy@ontario.ca
  2. Proof of service, which must be effected in accordance with the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, must be filed by email at toronto.bankruptcy@ontario.ca in advance of the in-writing hearing date.
  3. If the application is on consent or unopposed, the Registrar will deal with the matter in writing. If the application is opposed, the Registrar will adjourn the matter to a Commercial List judge to be scheduled in accordance with the Notice to the Profession dated March 16, 2020.

G.7. Additional Matters to be heard In Writing

  1. The Registrars in Bankruptcy will also hear appropriate urgent and time sensitive matters in writing. The types of matters that fall into the urgent or time sensitive matters include the following matters:
    1. Motions to extend proposal periods where a Notice of Intention has been filed;
    2. Motions to approve Division I proposals;
    3. Motions to revive consumer proposals;
    4. Motions seeking leave to file a completion or second consumer proposal;
    5. Applications for bankrupt’s discharge following compliance with prior court discharge orders; and
    6. Any other matter which the Registrars in their discretion determine is appropriate.
  1. If a party seeks to apply for a bankrupt’s discharge following compliance with prior court discharge orders, the party shall email the materials to the Bankruptcy Court office at toronto.bankruptcy@ontario.ca, together with a completed request form, and request that the application be scheduled for the next available date. The system cannot accommodate large records. Accordingly, the parties shall exercise discretion in determining what materials are necessary. The party shall undertake to file a hard copy with the Bankruptcy Court office by regular mail, together with the appropriate filing fee, once regular court operations resume. 
  2. Motions in writing shall be heard on Monday of each week during the COVID-19 pandemic, or as soon thereafter as the matter can be heard.
  3. If a party wishes a motion to be heard in writing, the party shall request a hearing date from the Bankruptcy Court office by emailing a completed request form to toronto.bankruptcy@ontario.ca. Once a date has been assigned, the party shall serve the motion in accordance with the notice requirements in the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the procedure set forth in rule 37.12.1 of the Rules of Civil Procedure shall apply. The moving party shall email the materials to the Bankruptcy Court office at toronto.bankruptcy@ontario.ca together with proof of service.  The system cannot accommodate large records.  Accordingly, the parties shall exercise discretion in determining what materials are necessary.  The party shall file a hard copy with the Bankruptcy Court office by regular mail, together with the appropriate filing fee, once regular court operations resume.
  4. Orders that are granted will be scanned and delivered by email to the party upon disposition. The order is effective from its date and the order need not be entered.

G.8. Matters Previously Filed

If a party has previously submitted or filed matters of the nature that will be heard as outlined in this notice, the party must resubmit these matters by email, in accordance with the procedure outlined in this notice.  Where possible, the party is requested to identify that such matter was previously filed and the filing fee paid, as appropriate.

Justice Stephen E. Firestone
Regional Senior Judge
Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Toronto Region

April 2, 2020; revised April 22, 2020 adding section G.


[1] Again, a court reporter may not be necessary because the telephone conference lines used for the bail/90 day reviews will be recorded.  It is an added precaution to ensure that the proceedings are recorded.  The failure to have a court reporter present should not prevent the hearing from occurring.

[2] It has been brought to our attention that the defendant is likely required for a 90 day detention review pursuant to s. 502.1(1) of the Criminal Code.

[3] We would ask that the defendants appear only if necessary as such an appearance may prevent other defendants having access to the teleconference system.