Notice to Profession – Toronto

Toronto Expansion Protocol for Court Hearings During COVID-19 Pandemic

Notice of amendments:

Effective September 28, 2020:

  • Paragraphs 6 and 7 of Part B (Family Matters – Resumption of Operations), which address electronic filing for urgent matters and matters that are less than five days away, as well as electronic filing of confirmation forms.
  • Part H (Procedures for Actions Governed by the Construction Act) is amended.

Effective September 24, 2020:

  • Part B is amended and its title changed from “Family Matters” to “Family Matters – Resumption of Operations”.
  • Part C (Civil Matters) is amended.
  • Part F (Urgent Matters Heard by Registrars in Bankruptcy) is amended and its title changed to “Matters Heard by Registrars in Bankruptcy”.

Effective August 31, 2020:

  • Part A.4 (viii) (Summary Conviction Appeals/Extraordinary Remedies) is amended, and the email address for downtown Crown Attorneys is updated.
  • Part C (Civil Matters) is amended, including by adding sections C.1.2 (Additional Civil Matters before a Master) and C.1.3 (Material Filing);
  • Part H (Procedures for Actions Governed by the Construction Act) is amended.

Urgent matters will continue to be heard, as provided in the Chief Justice’s May 13, 2020 Notice to the Profession.

The Toronto Region of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (SCJ) has further expanded the matters which it will hear virtually in an ongoing effort to facilitate timely access to justice.

This revised Notice to the Profession provides updated guidance to assist justice system participants and the public in navigating available SCJ virtual proceedings in the Toronto Region.

The Toronto Region will continue to monitor the situation and, if possible, will further expand the types of matters and hearings that will be heard during these extraordinary times.

A. Criminal Matters Upon Resumption of Operations

A.1 GUIDING PRINCIPLES

In order to ensure the safety of all justice participants, upon the resumption of court operations, every measure possible will be taken to reduce the number of people who physically attend the courthouse each day.

Lawyers and accused persons should not attend the courthouse in person unless their physical presence is required. Generally, no lawyers or accused persons should attend court in person except for a trial or for a pre-trial application or motion in which viva voce evidence is called or for an application that cannot be heard remotely because it is required to be in camera.

No person shall attend the courthouse for any purpose if that person is experiencing symptoms of COVID -19 or if that person has recently been exposed to COVID-19. Any justice participant who would otherwise be required to attend court in person but is unable to do so because of COVID-19 symptoms or exposure shall call 416 327 5558 and leave a voicemail message. The message must provide contact information in order to allow the court to contact the justice participant and to reschedule the appearance.

There will be COVID-19 screening in effect at the entry to the courthouse and physical distancing and other precautionary measures within the courthouse. All persons attending the courthouse should follow the directions regarding physical distancing, masks and hand hygiene as posted in the courthouse.

Water fountains will not be operating. Justice participants should bring a personal water bottle.

A.2- GENERAL

(i) Communication with the trial coordinators

Most communications to arrange dates for trials, judicial pre-trials and applications will occur by email. In e-mail communications with the trial coordinators, Counsel should put, in the subject line, the name of the accused person and the nature of the request (eg. Trial date, JPT, application date).

(ii) Interpreters

  1. If an interpreter is required for any scheduled remote appearance, Crown Counsel/the Federal Crown or Counsel for the defendant shall advise the trial coordinator.
  2. Counsel requiring the interpreter shall advise 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.

(iii) Serving and filing documents

The protocols in place from March to June 2020 will continue apply upon resumption of in person proceedings. See the following link for filing in criminal matters: https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/notices-and-orders-covid-19/consolidated-notice/#2_Filings_in_Criminal_Matters

(iv) Reference to ‘Admin Crown’.

Wherever reference is made to the ‘Admin Crown’ this term is to be interpreted as the Admin Crown or their designate.

(v) Judges Signing documents

Pursuant to s.3.1(2) of the Criminal Code, the clerk of the court may sign orders or other writings on behalf of the presiding judge.

A.3 MATTERS TO BE HEARD IN PERSON

(i) Trials – Presumptively in-person

Counsel, accused persons and witnesses shall attend in person for all scheduled trial dates on and after July 6th 2020, unless otherwise directed by the Court. If the matter must proceed as a jury trial it will be adjourned until after September 1st, 2020.

(ii) Pre-trial Applications

Counsel, accused persons and witnesses shall attend in person for all scheduled pre-trial application dates on and after July 6th 2020, unless otherwise directed by the court. As set out in paragraphs A.4 (iv) and (v) below, if agreed between counsel, an in person pretrial application may be converted to a remote hearing.

A.4 MATTERS THAT WILL CONTINUE TO BE HEARD REMOTELY

(i) Judicial Pre-trials (JPTs)

All JPTs will continue to be heard remotely, by audioconference or videoconference.

(a) Where the accused person is represented by counsel, the following procedure applies:

For Matters prosecuted by the Provincial Crown:

  1. Within 2 business days following committal, after consultation with defence, the Crown, through the administrative Crown or their designate, will book a JPT using the shared Microsoft Outlook calendar.
  2. Crowns should prepare a Form 17 at least 10 days before the JPT and send it to all defence counsel in Word Format.
  3. Defence counsel should complete the Form 17 and return it to the Crown at least 5 days before the JPT in Word and PDF format.
  4. The Administrative Crown will post the Form 17 in Word and PDF and other relevant documents to the Shared Outlook File for the JPT.
  5. The judge conducting the JPT may annotate the Form 17 or prepare a Form 18.

For matters prosecuted by PPSC:

  1. Within 2 business days following committal, the prosecutor or their designate, after consultation with the defence will book a JPT and advise the trial co-ordinators by telephone or email[1]. Federal judicial pre-trials will be scheduled on Wednesdays.
  2. Crowns should prepare a Form 17 at least 10 days before the JPT and send it to all defence counsel in Word Format.
  3. Defence counsel should complete the Form 17 and return it to the Crown at least five days before the JPT in Word and PDF format. The Crown will send the Form 17 in Word and PDF by email to the trial coordinator.
  4. The judge conducting the JPT may annotate the Form 17 or prepare a Form 18.

(b) Where the accused person is self-represented the following procedure applies:

  1. Where an accused person is self-represented, the judicial pre-trial will be scheduled at the first appearance of the accused in Superior Court. The JPT will be conducted on the record by audioconference or videoconference on the date agreed upon.

(ii) Administrative Pre-trial Appearances in the Superior Court – “Practice Court”[2]) – On and after July 13th 2020

(a) Scheduling First Appearances

  1. The first appearance of an accused person in the Superior Court should be scheduled for the fourth week after committal.
  2. If the case is prosecuted by the Downtown Crown’s office, the matter should be scheduled for a Monday at 9 am.
  3. If the matter is prosecuted by the Scarborough Crown’s office or Guns and Gangs, it should be scheduled for a Tuesday at 9 am.
  4. If the matter is prosecuted by the PPSC or DOJ it should be scheduled for a Wednesday at 9 am.
  5. If the matter is prosecuted by North York or Etobicoke, it should be scheduled for a Friday at 9 am.
  6. If there is a statutory holiday on the day when a matter would normally be scheduled for a first appearance, it may be scheduled two weeks after the JPT or it may be scheduled on the Thursday of the week after the JPT.
  7. Where cases have already been scheduled before this Notice took effect, the matter will be addressed on the scheduled date by way of audio or video conference and adjourned to the next available date after the JPT and on the day of the week assigned to the relevant Crown’s office.

(b) Remote Attendance

  1. All administrative attendances are presumptively remote.
  2. Accused persons shall attend court by audioconference, videoconference or by designation of counsel.
  3. Persons in custody at the Toronto South Detention Centre, who are not appearing through counsel by designation, will attend at 9 am. Persons in custody at the Toronto East Detention Center, who are not appearing through counsel by designation, will attend at 11 am.
  4. The attendance of persons detained in other institutions will be arranged as needed.
  5. In addition to remand dates , the endorsement on the warrant of remand will also indicate the manner in which the accused person will re-attend: “by audioconference” or “by videoconference” or “in person” (in person appearances should be used only if the accused is required to attend for an application, case management, guilty plea or trial).
  6. Counsel for the Crown and counsel for the accused shall attend Practice Court by audioconference or videoconference.[3]

(c) Duty Counsel/Amicus

  1. There will be a duty counsel or amicus present to assist self-represented accused persons in joining the audio or videoconference[4] and to assist is addressing their matters.
  2. In order to increase efficiency, duty counsel/amicus will also be available to address matters on behalf of counsel. The contact details of the assigned duty counsel will be posted with the daily court list.
  3. Self-represented accused persons must contact the duty counsel/amicus before court and provide a telephone number where they can be reached for the hearing.

(d) Subsequent Administrative Appearances

  1. All subsequent administrative appearances, after the first appearance will be conducted in the same way: remotely, on the day designated for the particular Crown’s office.
  2. If there is a reason that the appearance must be in person, the case will be adjourned to 9 am in a courtroom that has been opened for trial matters.

(e) Designations

  1. Counsel are encouraged to file designations for accused persons both in and out of custody. If, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, counsel are unable to meet in person with a client to have a designation signed, the designation can be signed by counsel on behalf of the client if the client has so directed.
  2. A designation may provide for unlimited appearances by counsel or it may indicate that the lawyer is authorized to appear for limited purposes or for a limited time.
  3. Designations may be filed electronically with the court.

(f) Setting Trial Dates

  1. Trial dates should be arranged by all counsel with the trial co-ordinators following the JPT and before the appearance in court.
  2. Where a trial date is to be set, counsel will complete a trial confirmation form that will be filed electronically with the court. The trial confirmation form will set out the first available dates for trial for the court and counsel as well as the trial date agreed upon. A trial confirmation form must be completed for all cases including long trials.
  3. A trial confirmation date should also be agreed upon.
  4. Counsel should continue to contact the trial co-ordinators through the generic email.

(g) Re-elections and Short Applications (For example, Remove counsel, release exhibits)

  1. An accused person may re-elect their mode of trial at the Practice Court appearance.
  2. Short applications or matters that are on consent can be scheduled for Practice Court. Longer applications should be scheduled through the trial co-ordinators.

(h) Case Management

  1. Where a case requires case management, the matter may be held down until the end of the set dates or adjourned to another court, to a JPT, or to the afternoon session (2 pm) of Practice Court.

(iii) Guilty Pleas

If an accused person who has an appearance in Practice Court to set a date wishes on that appearance to enter a guilty plea, the matter may be dealt with by the presiding judge or held down until all of the dates have been set or sent to another court or to the afternoon session (2 pm) of Practice Court.

Guilty pleas will continue to be scheduled in other courts on any day. For scheduled guilty pleas, the following protocol continues to apply:

  1. Counsel will contact the Admin Crown or their designate who 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. The Admin Crown/designate will also file the documentation with the Criminal Intake Office at Toronto.SCJ.CRIMINALINTAKE@ontario.ca.
  2. The trial coordinator will schedule a date and time for the plea and advise all parties.
  3. If the accused is in custody, the Admin Crown/ designate will advise the institution so that the inmate can be available to participate in the teleconference or videoconference.
  4. The trial coordinator will provide the parties with the teleconference or videoconference information for the hearing.

(iv) Pre-trial Applications in which no viva voce evidence is to be heard and which are not to be held in camera

Pre-trial applications in which no viva voce evidence is to be heard and which are not required to be held in camera will continue to be heard remotely. These applications can be booked through the trial coordinators’ office. No Judicial Pre-trial is required unless counsel request it. A date for the application can be arranged by contacting the trial coordinator through the generic email. The email should indicate that no viva voce evidence is to be called and that a remote hearing is sought.

(v) Pre-trial applications in which viva voce evidence is to be heard or which are to be held in camera

Pre-trial applications in which viva voce evidence is to be heard or which are to be held in camera may be heard remotely if the parties consent and agree on a procedure and a judicial pre-trial is held before the hearing is scheduled.

All materials are to be filed with the Trial Coordinator’s Office at CriminalTrialOffice-SCJ-Toronto@ontario.ca and with the Criminal Intake Office at TORONTO.SCJ.CRIMINALINTAKE@ontario.ca.

(vi) Extradition Matters

All extradition matters will be heard remotely unless otherwise ordered.

(vii) Bail Reviews (including 90 day reviews)

All bail reviews will continue to be heard remotely. The following protocols will continue to apply:

(a) Consent releases

  1. Counsel will fill out the conditions of release and surety declaration (if applicable). These will be forwarded to the Admin Crown who will forward it to the registrar’s office at Toronto.SCJ.CriminalCourtSupport@ontario.ca and to the Criminal Intake Office at Toronto.SCJ.CRIMINALINTAKE@ontario.ca.
  2. The trial coordinator will assign a judge and a registrar.
  3. The registrar will complete the paperwork and provide it to the parties for their signature. 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.).
  4. The release order will be sent to an available judge for approval and execution.
  5. The signed release order will be returned to the registrar who will provide it to the relevant institution and to the parties.

(b) Contested Hearings

  1. Counsel are to consult each other about the necessity of booking a time for a contested bail/90-day review. Self-represented defendants should be directed to Ms. Maija Martin of the Criminal Lawyers Association (Maija@martincriminaldefence.ca). If a self-represented defendant is identified by Mr. Hank Goody (A.C.A.) during the 90-day set date court on Thursdays, he will advise the Crown from that borough who will then advise Ms. Martin.
  2. Defence counsel will email materials to the Admin Crown to effect service. Defence counsel will include their availability and the time estimate for the hearing when serving the Crown.
  3. The Admin Crown will file all materials with the Trial Coordinator’s Office at CriminalTrialOffice-SCJ-Toronto@ontario.ca and with the Criminal Intake Office at SCJ.CRIMINALINTAKE@ontario.ca. The Admin Crown will ensure any response materials are filed and copied to the defence.
  4. In the case of 90-day reviews, the trial coordinator will email Ms. Maria Ranaudo (Maria.Ranaudo@Ontario.ca) to determine if a bail hearing has been conducted. If there was no bail hearing, the trial coordinator will provide a date for the review hearing. If there was a bail hearing, Ms. Ranaudo will order the transcript by email copying the trial coordinator. An available judge will authorize the transcript order.
  5. The trial coordinator will provide a date and time for the hearing once defence materials have been served on the Admin Crown and filed (or fifteen (15) days after the transcript has been ordered in the case of 90-day reviews). Counsel must file all materials by 10:00 a.m. on Thursday if they wish to conduct the bail / bail review / 90-day review the following week.
  6. To avoid any unnecessary adjournments of scheduled hearing dates, the applicant is not permitted to file additional materials after the 10:00 a.m. deadline on Thursday unless the responding party consents. If possible, the responding party should file their materials at least two clear days prior to the scheduled hearing.
  7. The bail / bail review / 90-day reviews can be heard each day at 10:00 a.m. (four (4) possible slots) and 2:00 p.m. (four possible slots).
  8. The trial coordinator will provide the interested parties with the videoconference or teleconference information.
  9. Counsel should complete the “terms of release” form and circulate it to the other parties in advance of the hearing.
  10. Counsel should ensure they have a copy of the photo identification from the proposed sureties.
  11. The defendant need not be present for a bail review. 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.
  12. 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 in above.
  13. If released, the registrar will complete the paper work, 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.).
  14. The release documents will then be scanned and sent to the judge for signature and returned to the registrar. The paperwork will then be forwarded to the institution.

(c) 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. The 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. The Crown will send the variation to an available judge for approval.
  5. The Registrars will be copied by emailing SCJ.CriminalCourtSupport@ontario.ca and the criminal intake office at Toronto.SCJ.Criminalintake@ontario.ca.
  6. Once approved, the paperwork will be completed and provided to counsel.

(viii) Summary Conviction Appeals/Extraordinary Remedies

(a) The Hearings

  1. Hearings will proceed remotely through secure telephone lines unless counsel request a video hearing. Requests for video hearings are to be made to the Court at the time hearing dates are scheduled by the Court. For hearings that were scheduled prior to September 1, 2020, counsel are to make the request in writing through the SCA/Special Motions Registrar at Toronto.SCJ.CriminalIntake@ontario.ca as soon as practicable and no later than one week prior to their scheduled hearing date or September 22, 2020 whichever is the earlier.
  2. Any appellant currently required, by the terms of their current bail, to surrender into custody prior to the appeal hearing is not required to do so. That condition is varied to one which only requires a surrender into custody if their appeal is dismissed and they are subject to a custodial sentence.
  3. All judgments in appeals where the appellant/respondent is potentially liable to be returned to custody will be reserved until the autumn or such time as it is deemed safe to enter incarceration.
  4. All out of custody appellants required to attend the hearings in person are no longer required to do so, unless self-represented. Hearings for self-represented appellants/applicants shall be conducted in person, unless in custody, in which case they will be conducted remotely.
  5. Hearings with Counsel will be conducted either by video using Zoom or telephone conferencing depending on the wishes of Counsel. If the hearing is one in which Counsel elects to proceed by video, their client will not be allowed to participate. However, if the hearings are held by teleconference, arrangements will be made by the defence to permit their client to attend through a conference line, but Counsel shall not provide the secure number of the Court to their client.
  6. There may be cases where Counsel wish to proceed by video and have their client present for the hearing. Counsel shall not share the video link with their client. In these cases, Counsel should contact the court by email through the criminal intake office to request arrangements for co-ordinated video and audio hearings. Due to limited capacity, these types of dual hearings should be conducted sparingly and may not be possible in all cases.

(b) Service and Filing

  1. Notices of appeal/application and supporting materials by a defendant that is not an inmate appeal/application shall be served on the Attorney General for Ontario electronically at Toronto.Crown.SCA.SpecialMotions@ontario.ca or the Attorney General for Canada at OntarioFedProsecutionServices@ppsc-sppc.gc.ca, or SignifierOntarioPoursuitesFedS@ppsc-sppc.gc.ca, depending on who had/has carriage of the matter giving rise to the impugned order.
  2. The Crown shall provide email confirmation of acceptance of service or rejection of service as soon as practicable.
  3. The Notice and a copy of the email confirmation of acceptance of service shall be filed electronically with the court through the criminal intake office at Toronto.SCJ.CriminalIntake@ontario.ca along with any documents/materials required under the Criminal Proceedings Rules for the Superior Court of Justice (Ontario).
  4. Where the appellant/applicant is the Attorney General, his or her agent, or was the informant or any party other than the defendant (the accused) in proceedings before the court/preliminary inquiry court, the notice of appeal/application shall be served by mail on each person in respect of whom the appeal/application is brought against unless there is counsel of record, in which case service will be effected by sending the notice electronically to counsel. The appellant/applicant shall send a courtesy copy of the notice mailed to the respondent electronically to counsel of record in the proceedings the appeal/application relates to, if there was counsel of record. Filing the notice with the court shall be done electronically by sending it to the criminal intake office.
  5. The parties shall electronically serve the opposing party and shall electronically file with the criminal intake office copies of all factums, appeal books/application records and any other material being relied upon. These materials shall be sent to the opposing party and to the court in the same email. This does not preclude a party or the court from rejecting the documents for non compliance with the rules.
  6. The appellant/applicant shall serve transcripts electronically by email to the opposing party and file transcripts electronically by email to the criminal intake office.
  7. The subject line of all emails should clearly identify the name of the case, court fie number (if known), date of hearing (if known), nature of the proceedings (e.g. conviction appeal) and for PPSC matters the court location, and be prefaced by” SCA” if an appeal or “Special Motion” if an extraordinary remedy application.
  8. Cases and other source materials referenced in factums shall be hyperlinked and it will not be necessary to file a Book of Authorities unless requested by the judge.
  9. E-service and e-filing documents and materials replaces the requirement to serve and file a paper/hard copy.
  10. Where the appellant/applicant is self-represented and does not have access to electronic means for e-service and e-filing, documents and materials may be served and filed in paper/hard copy.

(c) Facta Filing Timelines

  1. For summary conviction appeals, the Appellant shall serve and file their factum not later than sixty (60) days before the day first scheduled for the hearing and the Respondent shall serve and file their factum not later than twenty (20) days before the day first scheduled for the hearing.
  2. For extraordinary remedy applications, the Applicant shall serve and file their factum not later than thirty (30) days before the day first scheduled for the hearing and the Respondent shall serve and file their factum not later than ten (10) days before the day first scheduled for the hearing.

(d) Bail Pending Appeal/Stays

  1. Applications for bail pending appeal and stays of driving prohibition, fine, forfeiture, restitution, victim fine surcharge, probation or conditional sentence orders are subject to the same procedure outlined in this protocol for bail reviews, with the following modifications:
    1. Applications shall be served electronically on the Crown at Toronto.Crown.SCA.SpecialMotions@ontario.ca, or OntarioFedProsecutionServices@ppsc-sppc.gc.ca / SignifierOntarioPoursuitesFedS@ppsc-sppc.gc.ca. depending on who had carriage of the trial. The subject line of the email should clearly identify the name of the case, nature of the proceedings (e.g. bail pending appeal) and for PPSC matters the court location, and be prefaced by” SCA”;
    2. The Crown shall provide email confirmation of acceptance of service or rejection of service as soon as practicable;
    3. The applicant shall contact the Crown to ascertain the Crown’s position, and canvass available dates if the application is being contested, prior to electronically filing their application with the Court through the criminal intake office at Toronto.SCJ.CriminalIntake@ontario.ca. Dates for a contested hearing shall be set out on the email at the time of e-filing contested applications;
    4. The criminal intake office will arrange for a contested hearing to be held remotely and notify the parties;
    5. A draft order shall accompany applications on consent, including a Form 10A (if applicable) signed by all parties, and e-filed with the criminal intake office by the applicant, unless self represented, in which case the crown shall electronically file the application and materials with the court;
    6. Draft orders should be e-filed in the Microsoft Word format (.docx) rather than a PDF version;
    7. The paperwork will be completed by the criminal intake office and provided to the parties for their signature. The applicant shall return the signed paperwork to the criminal intake office by email, and the criminal intake office will distribute the court order(s) to all interested parties and to the institution, if applicable;

If the Applicant indicates that they wish to be present, arrangements will be made for them to have access to the teleconference call. If in custody, the Crown will contact the institution to provide the applicant with telephone access. If out of custody, Defence Counsel will make the necessary arrangements but shall not provide the secure number of the Court to their client.

A.5 THE FOLLOWING IS A LIST OF NAMES AND CONTACT INFORMATION TO BE USED:

Title Name Email Address
Toronto Criminal Trial Coordinators Anna Katsoulis, Christine Rusk and Elaine Sakorafas Criminaltrialoffice-SCJ-Toronto@Ontario.ca
Criminal Lawyers Association Maija Martin[4] Maija@Martincriminaldefence.ca
Guns and Gangs Liz Nadeau Elizabeth.Nadeau@Ontario.ca
Downtown Toronto Administrative Crown VirtualCriminalCrownSCJToronto@Ontario.ca
Mike Cantlon Michael.Cantlon@Ontario.ca
Mary Humphrey Mary.Humphrey@ontario.ca
Scarborough Jackie Garrity Jackie.Garrity@Ontario.ca
North York Allison MacPherson Allison.MacPherson@Ontario.ca
Metro West Sarah Leece Sarah.Leece@Ontario.ca
90-Day Reviews Hank Goody Hank.Goody@Ontario.ca
Summary Conviction Appeal Wendy Sabean Wendy.Sabean@ontario.ca
Federal Crown – PPSC Brian Puddington Brian.Puddington@ppsc-sppc.gc.ca
Chris Gruppuso Chris.Gruppuso@ppsc-sppc.gc.ca
Federal Crown – Department of Justice (Extradition and MLAT) Christopher Bundy Christopher.Bundy@justice.gc.ca
Registrars, Court Staff Susan Johnson Toronto.SCJ.CriminalCourtSupport@ontario.ca
Court Reporters Natalie Cesario Natalie.Cesario@Ontario.ca

B. Family Matters – Resumption of Operations

B.1 Introduction

The provisions set out in this Notice to the Profession supersedes all previous Notices to the Profession.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Toronto Region-Family, will resume full operation in accordance with the Family Law Rules and Practice Directions (pre-COVID), subject to the terms set out below.

B.2 In-Person Attendances

  1. Case conference will continue to take place virtually. Closer to the conference date, the conference coordinator will send an email to the parties or counsel confirming both the date and time of the conference and providing the parties with the teleconference or Zoom information.
  2. As much as possible, settlement conferences, trial management conferences, long motions, appeals, Hague hearings and trials will be taking place in-person, unless the parties are notified otherwise by way of email from the Trial Coordinator’s Office. Case conferences and simple motions will still take place by video or teleconference.
  3. Where counsel and/or a party are not prepared to return to court, they should advise both the other side and the Trial Coordinator’s Office and the matter will proceed by Zoom or teleconference.

B.3. Electronic Filing and Issuance

  1. All documents that may be served by regular service, may be served by email.
  2. All documents filed electronically shall be filed using Justice Services Online (the Family Submissions Online portal or Family Claims Online portal, as appropriate), unless:
    • Your matter is urgent;
    • You are filing for a court event that is less than five business days away; or
    • You are filing a confirmation form.
  3. If your matter is urgent or you are filing a confirmation form, documents filed electronically must be filed by email as outlined below.
  4. If you are electronically filing a document for a court event that is less than five business days away, you must file by email to Toronto.SCJ.FAMILYINTAKE@ontario.ca.
  5. Unless urgent, all Applications and Motions to Change filed electronically for issuance shall be filed using Justice Services Online, along with other necessary documents as required under the Family Law Rules. You will receive an electronic copy of your court-issued Application or Motion to change by email, including a court file number and date of issuance.
  6. All documents served or filed electronically shall be named in a manner that identifies it clearly so that it is not necessary to open the document to understand what it is. Specifically, parties shall use the file naming instructions set out in section B.12 below.
  7. Unless specifically set out below, confirmation forms must be filed in advance of all scheduled matters, as set out in the Family Law Rules and Practice Directions or the matter will not proceed as scheduled.
  8. Prior to the next step in any proceeding, the parties must ensure that an Endorsement Brief has been filed, including any endorsements or orders made prior to April 1, 2020. Any requests to court staff for copies of prior endorsements should be done by email so as to limit in-person attendances at courthouses.

B.4. Obtaining Case Conference, Settlement Conference and Trial Management Conference Dates

  1. Conferences can be booked in two ways:
    1. On consent of all parties, finding a date using https://calendly.com/conference-booking. If there are no dates available through Calendly, the Conference Coordinator may be able to provide additional dates. See (b) below.
    2. Emailing the Conference Coordinator at: Toronto.family.caseconferences@ontario.ca. The Conference Coordinator will provide three dates. The date will only be booked upon the party confirming, by email, the chosen date. A Conference Notice will then have to be served on the other side and filed, along with an affidavit of service.
  2. A party booking a conference on the Calendly link above shall add the opposing party (or their lawyer if represented) as a “guest” (option available on form) by including the email address of the opposing party or of the opposing party’s lawyer.
  3. Case conference briefs are limited to six (6) pages in length, double spaced and at least 12-point font size. Anything greater than six (6) pages will not be read by the designated judge. Schedules or tabs attached that provide background or a summary of the issues are not included in the six-page limit.
  4. Settlement conference briefs are limited to ten (10) pages in length. The page limit does not include net family property statements, financial statements, Supportmate calculations and reports.

B.5. Scheduling Motion Dates

  1. Due to capacity restrictions at the courthouse, the Court is unable to resume offering open motion dates. Motion dates must be booked in advance.
  2. A motion date can be obtained by emailing the Motion Coordinator at: FamilyTrialOffice-SCJ-Toronto@ontario.ca. The Motion Coordinator will provide three dates. The date will only be booked upon the party confirming, by email, the chosen date. All timelines set out in the Family Law Rules continue to apply.
  3. The court expects parties will only submit brief materials to allow for a fair, timely and summary disposition. Every effort must be made to keep materials brief. Parties filing unnecessary voluminous material may be subject to a cost order at the discretion of the presiding judge even if successful on the motion.
  4. All exhibits shall be bookmarked for ease of reference. If possible, pages should be numbered.
  5. All motions require factums, served and filed at least two days before the motion.
  6. The court welcomes counsel and parties to provide draft orders with their motion materials in Word.
  7. Bills of costs shall be filed along with motion material, if costs are requested by either party on the motion.
  8. No Books of Authority containing the full text of authorities may be emailed or filed. Each party’s factum shall instead hyperlink authorities to a publicly available, free website such as CanLII. The factum must include paragraph references each time a case it is cited in the factum.
  9. Excerpts of authorities that are not available on a free public website, such as excerpts from textbooks or unreported decisions, should be collected in a small brief of excerpts of unreported authorities and filed electronically in PDF format.

B.6 Scheduling Urgent Matters

  1. Urgent matters (whether conferences or motions) are no longer being submitted for triaging and the (pre-COVID) rules and tests for urgent matters will apply.

Urgent Conferences

  1. If an urgent conference is required, a party can try to obtain an early conference date through the conference coordinator by either party sending an email to: Toronto.family.caseconferences@ontario.ca along with their case conference brief.  If an early conference date is available, the conference coordinator will provide the parties with the date, time and the contact information for the conference call or videoconference for the case conference.
  2. If an early conference date is available, the conference coordinator will provide the parties with the date, time and the contact information for the conference call or videoconference for the case conference.
  3. For urgent conferences only, the other party’s case conference brief shall be filed by emailing the brief and affidavit of service to Toronto.family.caseconferences@ontario.ca and filing a copy through the Family Submissions Online portal.
  4. For urgent conferences only, the other party’s case conference brief shall be filed by emailing the brief and affidavit of service to Toronto.family.caseconferences@ontario.ca.
  5. No confirmation form is required prior to an urgent conference once the parties have confirmed the date and time with the conference coordinator’s office.

Urgent Motions

  1. If an urgent motion is required, a party must:
    1. Serve the motion material on the opposing party or parties by email (if not an ex-parte motion); and
    2. Filing the motion material, a draft order and a populated restraining order if appropriate (and affidavit of service if not an ex-parte motion) by emailing the motion material to FamilyTrialOffice-SCJ-Toronto@ontario.ca. The subject heading on the email shall read “Urgent Motion”.
  2. The trial coordinator shall seek direction from a presiding judge as to whether the motion is urgent and will be heard. There is no change to the threshold for urgent motions that existed pre-COVID.

B.8 Motions to Change

Motions to Change, not on consent, shall proceed to a case conference, until further notice of recommencement of the DRO program.

B.9 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.10 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. The court is only responsible for providing interpreters in specific circumstances, otherwise parties are responsible for ensuring they have made their own arrangements for an interpreter to attend.
  2. If, due to the nature of an order, the order needs to be entered on an expedited basis, arrangements should be made with court staff by emailing: Toronto.SCJ.FAMILYINTAKE@ontario.ca.
  3. For all general inquiries, please call the court office. Court staff cannot provide legal advice. All inquiries with respect to procedure will be referred to the court website.

B.11 Summary of Email Addresses

1. Toronto.SCJ.FAMILYINTAKE@ontario.ca to be used for:

  • Arranging expedited entry of an order

2. FamilyTrialOffice-SCJ-Toronto@ontario.ca to be used for:

  • Filing urgent motion material
  • to book a regular motion date

3. Toronto.family.caseconferences@ontario.ca to be used for:

  • Scheduling an urgent case conference date and filing urgent case conference briefs
  • Obtaining a case conference date if a party will not provide consent for available dates or if no dates are available through Calendly

B.12 File Naming Instructions for Electronic Documents

If the Applicant’s name is Smith and the Respondent’s name is Jones and the court file number is: FS-19-36654, save your documents with the appropriate case sensitive prefix, followed by: Smith v. Jones FS-19-36654. The table of prefixes is available at the following: https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/files/notices/family-prefixes.pdf

The court file number is located on the top right corner of the issued Application and all subsequent documents.

Example: If you are saving the Application, it shall be saved as follows:

AP Smith v. Jones FS-19-36654.

B.13 Physical Courts

As previously planned, the Toronto SCJ Family Courts has moved from 393 University Avenue to its new permanent home in 361 University Avenue.

C. Civil Matters

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

The following civil matters are being heard in Toronto:

C.1.1 Civil Matters before a Judge

1. Trials – Both judge alone and jury trials are currently proceeding in Toronto as scheduled. Counsel and parties should contact the trial coordinator’s office for further particulars. Trials that were adjourned due to the pandemic from March onwards will be re-scheduled at a To Be Spoken To Court in the near future.

2. Pre-Trial Conferences as discussed in C.2 below;

3. All motions and applications to a judge made without notice, on consent of all parties, and that are confirmed as unopposed, will be heard in writing. See section C.3 below for motions and applications for approval of settlements for parties under disability under Rule 7. Motions and applications made without notice, on consent, or on a confirmed unopposed basis may be filed in searchable PDF format through the Civil Submissions Online portal;

4. Requests for Chambers Appointments and other case conferences under Rule 50.13(1) may be sent to Torontochambersappointments@ontario.ca;

5. All opposed short motions and short applications to a judge are subject to review in writing before being scheduled. These motions and applications will be resolved in writing unless the reviewing judge directs a different procedure. Parties wishing to bring a short motion or a short application to a judge may submit a Short Motion or Application Request Form as an attachment to an email to civiljudgesmotions@ontario.ca. The moving party must consult or attempt to consult with all affected responding parties before submitting the request form. The judge reviewing the Short Motion or Application Request Form may issue directions for the disposition of the motion or convene a case conference for that purpose. Short motions are to be confirmed in accordance with the triage judge’s directions.

6. All long motions and long applications to a judge are being heard on the previously scheduled date. Counsel and parties are required to confirm their long motion or application by email to LongMotionsStatus.Judge@ontario.ca.

7. All summary judgment motions, appeals from the Consent and Capacity Board, long motions, long applications, and urgent matters must be scheduled through Civil Practice Court. Civil Practice Court sits every Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. by Zoom. Sitting days may be increased as volume requires. To obtain an appointment for Civil Practice Court, parties are required to email a requisition form to Civilpracticecourt@ontario.ca.

8. If an urgent request to schedule a matter cannot wait until the next Civil Practice Court, requests for an attendance before a judge may continue to be sent to Civilurgentmatters-SCJ-Toronto@ontario.ca.

9. If counsel have filed in-writing motions and applications, including Rule 7 approval motions or applications, in hard copy since March 17, 2020, they are advised to re-file electronically.

C.1.2 Additional Civil Matters before a Master

1. Pre-Trial Conferences as discussed in C.2 below.

2. Motions in writing to a master may be made for motions brought without notice, on consent of all parties, and that are confirmed as unopposed. Such motions may be filed in searchable PDF format through the Civil Submissions Online portal.

3. Short motions:

  1. Opposed short motions to a master (2 hours or less), or short motions where the moving party requests an oral hearing, may be booked by submitting a Short Motion or Application Request Form as an attachment to an email to JUS.G.MAG.CSD.Civilmotionsscheduling@ontario.ca.
  2. The moving party must consult or attempt to consult with all affected responding parties before submitting the request form. One proposed method of hearing (i.e., in writing, in person, or remote) must be selected and requested dates for any oral hearing that are mutually available for all affected parties must be clearly indicated.
  3. Civil motion confirmations are to be sent to JUS.G.MAG.CSD.CivilMotionsConfirmation@ontario.ca in the ordinary course.
  4. For solicitor removal motions to a master:
    1. Motions for removal of a party’s own solicitor shall be scheduled as opposed short motions, to proceed by videoconference. When the lawyer requests a date for a removal motion, the Civil Scheduling Unit will provide a date and the Zoom coordinates for accessing the virtual courtroom both by videoconference and by telephone. The moving lawyer shall then include those coordinates in the notice of motion served on the client and opposing parties.
    2. Unredacted motion records as provided in Rule 15.04(1.3) of the Rules of Civil Procedure should not be filed with other motion materials. Unredacted motion records should be provided to the presiding master for review at the beginning of the hearing of the motion as an attachment to an email sent to the registrar.

4. Long motions:

  1. Long motions to a master that were adjourned between March 15, 2020 and June 26, 2020 pursuant to the Notice to the Profession dated March 15, 2020 that have not already been rescheduled may be rescheduled by contacting the Assistant Trial Coordinator for the master assigned to hear the long motion.
  2. Long motions to a master scheduled on and after June 29, 2020 will presumptively be heard on the scheduled date.
  3. New long motions may be scheduled by sending a requisition to schedule a long motion before a master to Masters.LongMotions@ontario.ca. Procedures for filing materials and hearing the long motion will be determined by the assigned master at a case conference. If the action is case managed, a requisition is not necessary and a request for a long motion may be sent directly to the Assistant Trial Coordinator for the master who is managing the action.

5. Construction Lien Motions & References before a Master: See Section H below.

6. Reference Proceedings: Civil reference hearings before a master are currently proceeding in Toronto as scheduled, subject to the instructions of the assigned reference master. Counsel and parties should contact the reference master’s Assistant Trial Coordinator to arrange a case conference in advance of any pending scheduled reference hearing. Reference hearings that were adjourned due to the pandemic from March onwards may be re-scheduled by arranging a case conference with the assigned reference master. Prior to the case conference, counsel and parties must discuss if they have any issues, concerns, or objections to a remote reference hearing via videoconference.

C.1.3 Material Filing

1. In addition to any other document organization requirements that the court may impose, all motion and application materials are to be filed through the Justice Services Online (JSO) Civil Submissions Online portal.

2. Where the JSO portal cannot be used, or is not required to be used as provided in Section 2 of the Supplementary Notice to the Profession and Litigants in Civil and Family Matters – Including Electronic Filings and Document Sharing (Caselines Pilot), materials should be submitted for filing by email as follows:

  1. for motions/applications to a judge, to civiljudgesmotions@ontario.ca
  2. for motions to a master, to JUS.G.MAG.CSD.Civilmotionsscheduling@ontario.ca

3. All documents should be submitted in searchable PDF format. Affidavits, facta and draft orders should also be submitted in Word format.

4. For all motions, the moving and responding parties must file a participant sheet outlining the names and contact information, including email addresses, for all anticipated participants.

C.2 Pre-Trial Conferences

1. Pre-trial conferences may be heard in court or remotely. Counsel and parties will be advised of the location of the pre-trial conference the week before it is scheduled to be heard.

2. At this time, the court will hear pre-trial conferences for cases where trial dates have been fixed. It is expected that parties and counsel will attend pre-trial conferences with full intention and authority to settle the case. To make the pre-trial effective, there should be no impediment to resolution of the case such as an outstanding expert report, outstanding critical productions, or other evidence that is necessary for a fulsome discussion of the case.

3. While the initial focus of the pre-trial conference will be on resolution of the case, the pre-trial judge will also undertake trial management. Trial management is especially important with the possibility of virtual or hybrid virtual/live trials. Prior to the pre-trial conference, counsel will be provided with blank drafts of the form of pre-trial judges’ report under Rule 50.08. Trial counsel are required to speak to each other and to fill in the Rule 50.08 report consensually as much as possible in advance of the pre-trial conference. The court expects counsel to cooperate in the trial management process prior to and at the pre-trial conference.

C.2.1 Scheduling a Pre-Trial Conference

1. In addition to the pre-trial conferences scheduled by the court above, counsel or a party may request the scheduling of a pre-trial conference for pre-trial that meets the criteria in paragraph C.2(2) above 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. If the request for a pre-trial is not on consent, counsel should request a chambers appointment to deal with this issue.

2. When an action is scheduled for a pre-trial conference, the parties shall serve and file briefs that contain a concise summary of the position of the party and the evidence that will be relied on at trial at least five (5) days before the scheduled date. The parties will also deliver their draft Rule 50.08 reports. Briefs and draft reports shall be delivered electronically in searchable PDF format as attachments to an email to the email address set out above.

3. Counsel may summarize evidence such as the opinions of treatment providers or experts. Where counsel is of the view that the expert report should be read by the pre-trial judge, it should be included by hyperlinks to an external, secure database viewer in the pretrial brief that is sent 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, a dropbox, or otherwise. Summaries or charts of such records ought to be included in the body of the pretrial memorandum.

5. 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 other pre-trial conferences at its discretion.

C.2.2 Long Motions and Applications Before a Judge

1. Written material for long motions and applications, whether to be heard remotely or in court, shall also be uploaded to an online documents storage folder for use by the judge during the hearing. Directions for the use of the online storage folder may be obtained from the Motions Coordinator or from the discussion in Mann v. Chac- Wai, 2020 ONSC 3428 (CanLII), <http://canlii.ca/t/j813w>. All documents uploaded to the online folder are to be named in accordance with the Naming Rules listed in the Practice Advisory Concerning Civil Long Motions in the Toronto Region Effective April 3, 2018 found at https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/practice/practice- directions/toronto/t/civil-long-motions/.

2. The parties shall send the link to the online folder for all opposed motions and applications to the Motions Coordinator when they file their Motion Confirmation Forms under Section 1.B.13 of the Consolidated Practice Direction for Civil Actions, Applications, Motions and Procedural Matters in the Toronto Region. The Motion Confirmation Forms may be found at https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/files/forms/civ/confirmation-EN.doc. Only one confirmation form is required and there must be only one link to a single online storage folder where all material is filed.

3. For all long motions and applications, each of the parties shall also file and upload to the online storage folder a “Compendium” containing just the brief portions of the cases and the brief portions of the evidence to which each intends to refer during the hearing. Where portions of cases are included in the Compendium, the name of the case, citation, and the headnote from each case should be included as well. Where portions of the evidence are included in the Compendium, the first page of the document and identification of where it may be found in the record should also be provided.

4. For information about scheduling long motions and applications counsel and parties are directed to the Consolidated Practice Direction for Civil Actions, Applications, Motions and Procedural Matters in the Toronto Region found at the link provided above.

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 through the Civil Submissions Online portal.

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.

D. Divisional Court Matters

Procedures for Divisional Court matters are set out in the Notice to Profession – Divisional Court.

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 four (4) hours’ duration.
  4. All contested matters will be heard by teleconference using Zoom or another videoconference facility.
  5. Counsel will be notified by the Commercial List Office regarding in court hearings to be conducted beginning July 6, 2020 in Courtrooms 8-1 and 8-6 at 330 University Avenue.

F. Matters Heard by Registrars in Bankruptcy

F.1 Matters Heard by Masters Sitting as Registrars in Bankruptcy

  1. In accordance with the Notices to the Profession all in-person hearings will not resume until January 4, 2021 at the earliest, subject to any further direction from the court.
  2. The masters sitting as Registrars in Bankruptcy will now hear all bankruptcy matters virtually: in writing, by teleconference or video conference. In exceptional cases, the Registrars will use their discretion to determine whether a matter should be heard in-person, on a case by case basis.
  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 in writing, by teleconference or by videoconference.. The party will also attach a completed request form. The party shall advise of preferred manner, dates and times for the hearing of the matter as well as a time estimate for hearing. The Bankruptcy Court office will schedule the matter subject to the availability of the court and, if the matter is proceeding by teleconference or videoconference, the Bankruptcy Court office will provide connection details.
  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.

F.2 Conduct of Matters In writing, by Teleconference or by Videoconference

  1. The types of motions as enumerated in paragraph F.7 herein shall be heard in writing.
  2. Bankrupts’ applications for discharge following compliance with prior discharge orders and bankrupts’ applications for discharge that are on consent or unopposed, including matters where opposition is withdrawn, shall be heard in writing and shall be scheduled to be heard in writing by the Bankruptcy Court office on the next available date, excepting matters where there are alleged conduct issues or section 178 (c), (d), (e), more than two (j), (k) and (l) BIA facts, in which case such matters shall be heard by videoconference.
  3. Trustees’ applications for discharge shall be heard in writing.
  4. Taxations of Statements of Receipts and Disbursement (where a clear Letter of Comment has been received and is anticipated to be unopposed) and Taxation of legal bills 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. While the court is operating under COVID-19 conditions, the following documents should be included in filings:
    1. Statement of Receipts and Disbursements (SRD) – each taxation submission should have (1) the record containing required documents for review including the SRD, and (2) a separate PDF copy of the SRD for signature;
    2. Comment letter;
    3. Trustee affidavit of fees, with dockets and any other relevant documentation (if there are extenuating circumstances or complexities concerning the administration of the estate, these matters should be addressed in the affidavit filed in support of the taxation);
    4. Inspector resolution approving the SRD (if not apparent from the SRD);
    5. Copies of taxed legal bills of costs;
    6. Statement of Affairs – one (1) copy only; and
    7. Estate general ledger or detailed trial balance.

The following documents are not necessary to include in these filings at this time:

    1. Duplicate copies of documents;
    2. Scans of forms that are blank or not filled in or completed or blank pages after tabs;
    3. Copies of documents, notices or reports in connection with the discharge of the bankrupt; and
    4. Affidavits of service proving service of the initiating bankruptcy documents.

Attachments are limited to thirty-five (35) MB.

  1. All other motions may be heard by teleconference and videoconference at the request of the parties.
  2. All other bankrupts’ applications for discharge by bankrupts shall be heard by videoconference. The Registrars in Bankruptcy shall use their discretion to order bankrupts’ application for discharge to be heard in-person.
  3. The Bankruptcy Court has available teleconference and videoconference lines, some with recording capabilities. If required, the Registrar may ask counsel to provide videoconference facilities.
  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.

F.3 Materials for Hearing

  1. For each individual matter, parties shall email all relevant materials and documents necessary for the hearing to the Bankruptcy Court office at toronto.bankruptcy@ontario.ca and the email shall contain in the subject line the bankruptcy/estate file number and surname of the bankrupt. The system cannot accommodate large records. Accordingly, the parties shall exercise discretion in determining what materials are necessary. As set out in the Notice to the 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 Registrars in Bankruptcy will ask for further materials if necessary.
  2. Hard copies of the electronically filed materials, with the appropriate filing fee and copy of the court endorsement or order disposing of the matter, shall be filed with the Bankruptcy Court office, once regular court operations resume. Hard copies of the materials shall conform with the Rules of Civil Procedure requirements respecting court documents, including but limited to binding as required by Rule 4 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.
  3. All materials and documents necessary for the hearing shall be saved and emailed as attachments using the file or estate number with the appropriate case sensitive prefix/suffix. For example, a Trustee’s Report filed in accordance with section 170 of the BIA would be named: BKRE 31-12345678. The table of prefixes/suffixes is available at the following https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/notices-and-orders-covid-19/notice-to/table-of-prefixes-bankruptcy/. All electronic documents shall contain a hyperlinked table of contents/index and links to other electronically available documents, such as case authorities, etc.

F.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.

F.5 Orders

Finalized draft orders requiring signing shall be emailed directly to the Bankruptcy Court office at toronto.bankruptcy@ontario.ca. The signed order will be electronically delivered to the party.

F.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. The Bankruptcy Court office shall provide an electronically issued application. The party shall mail a hard copy of the issued application and the appropriate filing fee 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 at least three days 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 15, 2020.

F.7 Matters to be Heard In Writing

1. The following motions shall be heard by the Registrars in Bankruptcy in writing:

    1. Motions to extend proposal periods where a Notice of Intention has been filed;
    2. Motions to approve Division I proposals, if unopposed;
    3. Motions for substituted service;
    4. Motions for leave to file an assignment in bankruptcy, brought by the trustee or administrator of a deceased;
    5. Motions pursuant to s. 38 of the BIA;
    6. Motions to re-appoint the trustee;
    7. Motions to amend the style of cause/name of the bankrupt/debtor;
    8. Motions to approve the sale of assets to related parties, pursuant to s. 30(4) of the BIA;
    9. Motions to revive consumer proposals
    10. Motions seeking leave to file a completion or second consumer proposal; and
    11. 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 or where the application is on consent or unopposed, excepting matters where there are alleged conduct issues or section 178 BIA facts, 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. Once a date for the hearing of an in writing motion 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 electronically delivered to the party upon disposition. The order is effective from its date.

F.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 and the party has not received a disposition, 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.

G. Class Action Matters

G.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; and
  3. Select motions.

G.2 Motions in Writing

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

G.3 Case Management Conferences

  1. 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.

G.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.

H. Procedures for Actions Governed by the Construction Act

H.1 Matters Properly Brought before a Master in Construction Lien Ex Parte Court

  1. Construction lien masters are hearing matters properly brought in construction lien ex parte court. In particular, the following matters will be heard:
    1. Motions that may be brought without notice as provided in the Construction Act;
    2. Motions on consent of all affected parties and persons, including other lien claimants affected by the order sought; and
    3. Motions brought on an unopposed basis, where all affected parties and persons have confirmed that they do not oppose the relief sought prior to the motion being brought.
  2. Subject to resumption of in-person construction lien ex parte court, all ex parte, consent and unopposed construction lien motions will presumptively be heard in writing, unless the master hearing the motion directs otherwise. Parties are encouraged to continue bringing non-urgent ex parte, consent and unopposed matters in writing pending return to regular operations of in-person construction lien ex parte court. Matters that will be heard in-person are expected to be more limited during the initial phases of resuming regular construction lien ex parte court.
  3. Motion materials for motions brought pursuant to H.1.1 above shall be filed in searchable PDF format as follows:
    1. For non-urgent motions in matters that have not been referred to a construction lien master for determination, through the Civil Submissions Online portal.
    2. For urgent motions in matters that have not been referred to a construction lien master for determination, as attachments to an email sent to Toronto.Masters.ConstructionLienMatters@ontario.ca.
    3. For all motions in matters that have been referred to a construction lien master for determination, in accordance with Section H.3.3.
  4. Parties bringing motions in writing to vacate liens by payment into court shall have regard to the procedure and requirements in Section H.2.
  5. If the master hearing a motion brought in writing under this Section H.1 determines that an oral hearing is required, then the construction lien office will contact the moving party to arrange a hearing date/time. At the discretion of the master hearing the motion, the moving party may be directed to correspond directly with the master by email regarding the oral hearing.
  6. Motions for an order to have a day, time and place fixed for the trial of the action (following a judgment of reference or order directing a reference) must include availability of all counsel / parties for a first trial management conference / hearings for directions, absent which the court may fix the first available date.
  7. Motions for a judgment of reference or order directing a reference cannot be brought before a master.  These motions must be made to a judge:  s. 58(1) of the Construction Act.

H.2 Interim procedure for motions brought in writing to vacate liens by payment into court

  1. For motions brought in writing in accordance with s. 44 of the Construction Act for an order vacating a lien upon the posting of security, in addition to evidence supporting the relief sought, all motion materials must also include the following:
    1. A copy of the security to be posted (for lien bonds or letters of credit, this includes all schedules with visible signatures, identification of authorized signing officers, and any corporate seals) – high quality colour scan of the original security is preferred;
    2. A completed fiat in the usual form (blank copy available at https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/files/notices/fiat.pdf); and
    3. A draft order taking into account currently necessary directions to the Accountant of the Superior Court of Justice (the “Accountant”), current pre-conditions to the vacating order taking effect (e., the posting of security), and service of the Accountant’s receipt (general form of draft order available at https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/files/notices/vacating-order-form.pdf).
    4. Copies of the security and fiat should be filed as separate documents, whether or not included in the motion record.  All draft orders should be submitted in both PDF and Word formats.
  2. If there is an existing court file in respect of the lien (such as an action to enforce the lien), then the motion will be brought in that action. If not, then the court file number should be left blank and the court will assign a Toronto file number.
  3. Once the master hearing the motion has reviewed the materials and approved the security, the master will sign the fiat and, in the case of a lien bond or letter of credit, the security will be endorsed. The master’s endorsement, signed fiat, signed order, and, if applicable, endorsed lien bond or letter of credit will be emailed to the moving party.
  4. Unless the Accountant otherwise advises, parties should be issuing and entering orders before attending the Accountant’s office, as follows:
    1. For an order granted in Toronto actions, the order may be submitted for issuing and entering as an attachment to an email to Toronto.SCJ.CIVILINTAKE@ontario.ca.
    2. For an order granted in non-Toronto actions, where leave to have the motion heard in Toronto has been granted, the order must be issued and entered at the courthouse where the action was commenced.
  5. The issued and entered order, signed fiat, original security, and, if applicable, a copy of the endorsed lien bond or letter of credit are then taken or sent to the Accountant, who will post the original security (and, if applicable, the approved copy of the security), and will issue a receipt.
  6. Once the security has been posted, the vacating order must be served with Accountant’s receipt, and may be registered on title where the lien attaches to premises.
  7. For greater certainty, vacating motions brought in-person to a construction lien ex parte court following resumption of in-court hearings may be brought in accordance with the court’s prior non-interim procedure, including use of the prior standard form of draft order.

H.3 Other Hearings in Construction Lien Actions

  1. Urgent motions: Urgent motions in construction lien actions that have not been referred to a construction lien master for determination and are not captured by Section H.1 may be brought in accordance with the following:
    1. For motions to a judge, the same procedure for bringing an urgent civil motion to a judge should be followed.
    2. For motions to a master, a telephone case conference with a construction lien master will be required in order to determine the length of time required, set a timetable for any remaining steps before the hearing of the motion, and fix a return date for the motion.  Motion requests are made by submitting a Construction Lien Motion Request Form as an attachment to an email sent to Toronto.Masters.ConstructionLienMatters@ontario.ca with “Urgent” in the subject line.  The moving party must consult or attempt to consult with all affected responding parties before submitting the request form.
  2. Non-urgent motions: All non-urgent construction lien motions in actions that have not been referred to a construction lien master for determination and are not captured by Section H.1 may be brought in accordance with the following:
    1. For motions to a judge, the same procedures as set out in Section C should be followed.
    2. For motions to a master, motion requests are made by completing a Construction Lien Motion Request Form and submitting it as an attachment to an email sent to Toronto.Masters.ConstructionLienMatters@ontario.ca.  The moving party must consult or attempt to consult with all affected responding parties before submitting the request form.  Requested dates for any oral hearing that are mutually available for all affected parties must be clearly indicated.  For all long motions, a telephone case conference with a construction lien master will be required in order to determine the length of time required, set a timetable for any remaining steps before the hearing of the motion, and fix a return date for the motion.
  3. Motions in actions subject to a reference: All urgent and non-urgent motions in construction lien actions that have been referred to a construction lien master for determination shall be brought and filed in accordance with the following:
    1. Motions made without notice, on consent, or on a confirmed unopposed basis may be filed in searchable PDF format as attachments to an email sent to the attention of the reference master’s Assistant Trial Coordinator at Toronto.Masters.ConstructionLienMatters@ontario.ca.
    2. Parties wishing to bring a short motion should complete a Construction Lien Motion Request Form and submit it as an attachment to an email sent to the reference master’s Assistant Trial Coordinator or to Toronto.Masters.ConstructionLienMatters@ontario.ca. The reference master will issue directions for the disposition of the motion or convene a case conference for that purpose.
    3. Parties wishing to bring a long motion should complete a Construction Lien Motion Request Form and submit it as an attachment to an email to the reference master’s Assistant Trial Coordinator or Toronto.Masters.ConstructionLienMatters@ontario.ca. The reference master will issue directions for the disposition of the motion or convene a case conference for that purpose.
  4. Trial management conferences: Trial management conferences / hearings for directions in construction lien actions continue to be scheduled, with priority being given to hearings that have been adjourned since March 16, 2020. Pending hearings will be proceeding as scheduled, although they will be heard remotely unless the court otherwise directs. Requests for trial management conferences / hearings for directions, including rescheduling previously adjourned hearings, may be made to the reference master’s Assistant Trial Coordinator.
  5. Settlement conferences: Settlement conferences before a construction lien master are being scheduled and heard in all actions that have been referred to a construction lien master, subject to the court’s availability. Priority will be given to settlement conferences that were cancelled between March 16, 2020 and July 3, 2020. It is expected that parties and counsel will attend settlement conferences remotely, unless the court otherwise directs. Parties attending are expected to participate with the full intention and authority to settle the case. Provided all parties consent to proceeding with a settlement conference, a request to schedule a settlement conference may be made by emailing a request to the reference master’s Assistant Trial Coordinator with requested available dates or timeframes. Directions for the settlement conference will be issued once approved by the reference master and scheduled by the court.
  6. Construction lien reference trials:  Trials in construction lien actions referred to a master are currently proceeding in Toronto as scheduled, subject to the instructions of the reference master.  If not already scheduled, counsel and parties should contact the reference master’s Assistant Trial Coordinator to arrange a hearing in advance of any pending trial for directions on the conduct of trial.   Trials that were adjourned due to the pandemic from March onwards may now be re-scheduled by arranging a hearing with the reference master.  Prior to the hearing for directions on conduct of the trial, counsel and parties must discuss if they have any issues, concerns, or objections to a remote trial via videoconference.

H.4 Conduct of Teleconference or Videoconference Hearings

All oral hearings required in construction lien matters will be conducted by teleconference or videoconference, unless the court otherwise directs an in-person hearing. It is anticipated that the court will provide the parties with access to necessary teleconference or videoconference facilities. However, if required, the construction lien office or the master hearing the matter may direct counsel to provide them.

H.5 Material Filing for Construction Lien Matters before Masters

  1. Materials for Motions:  In addition to any other document organization requirements that the court may impose, all motion materials are to be filed through the Justice Services Online (JSO) Civil Submissions Online portal.  Where the JSO portal cannot be used, or is not required to be used either as provided above or as provided in Section 2 of the Supplementary Notice to the Profession and Litigants in Civil and Family Matters – Including Electronic Filings and Document Sharing (Caselines Pilot) (August 5, 2020), materials should be submitted for filing by email sent to Toronto.Masters.ConstructionLienMatters@ontario.ca.
  2. Materials for Other Hearings:  Materials for non-motion hearings should be submitted in accordance with any directions provided by the master hearing the matter or else by email sent to Toronto.Masters.ConstructionLienMatters@ontario.ca.
  3. Filing Format:  All documents should be submitted in searchable PDF format. Affidavits, facta and draft orders should also be submitted in Word format.
  4. Email Filing:  For all permitted email filings, the email must indicate the court file number, short title of proceedings, party filing the materials, the hearing-type (e.g. opposed motion), and the assigned or seized master (if known).
  5. Participant Sheets:  For all hearings, counsel/parties must file a participant sheet outlining the names and contact information, including email addresses, for all anticipated participants.

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


[1] The Admin Crowns may email the trial coordinator responsible for long/short trials directly rather than using the generic email box, if appropriate.

[2] 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.

[3] 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.

[4] Ms. Martin has agreed to assist any self-represented litigant or others requiring assistance during this time.