This document contains a compilation of resources and information about virtual hearings in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Scroll down and click on topics of interest to access more comprehensive information.
1. Naming electronic documents
Name your electronic documents in accordance with the court’s standard document naming protocol set out in the Consolidated Notice to the Profession, Litigants, Accused Persons, Public and the Media.
2. Filing your electronic documents with the court
a) Criminal Matters – All filings for criminal matters and requests for urgent criminal hearings must be emailed to the address located in the region’s notice to the profession.
b) Civil and Family Matters – File your court documents using the Ministry’s Justice Services Online platform, which includes the Civil Submissions Online and Family Submissions Online portals. After you submit your documents, you will receive an email from the court office within 5 business days advising whether your documents have been accepted for filing. See Supplementary Notice to the Profession and Litigants in Civil and Family Matters Regarding the CaseLines Pilot, E-Filing, and Fee Payment for details.
*If your matter is urgent or you are filing documents for a court date or deadline that is fewer than 5 business days away, you must email your documents to the court office at the email address located in the region’s notice to the profession.
c) Small Claims Court Matters – File your plaintiff’s claims (and amended plaintiff’s claims) using the Small Claims Court E-Filing Service portal. File other Small Claims Court documents using the Ministry’s Small Claims Court Submissions Online portal. After you submit your documents, you will receive an email from the court office within 5 business days advising whether your documents have been accepted for filing. See the Consolidated Notice to the Profession and the Public Regarding the Small Claims Court for more information about filing in Small Claims Court matters.
c) Divisional Court Matters – See the Divisional Court Notice to the Profession.
d) Other matters – See each region’s notice to the profession.
3. Uploading documents into the CaseLines document-sharing platform
If you have received an email from CaseLines inviting you to a case, click the link provided and upload the documents you will rely on for your hearing. Documents must be uploaded at least 5 days in advance of the hearing unless a rule of court or notice to the profession provides a different timeline. For more information about CaseLines, see:
- Notice to the Profession Regarding CaseLines
- CaseLines FAQs and Videos
- Tips for Counsel and Self-Represented Parties
CaseLines will be in place province-wide by mid-July 2021. Where CaseLines is not fully implemented, some regions’ notices to the profession require parties to upload their hearing documents onto a document sharing platform such as Sync.com so that the judiciary and parties can access the documents before and during hearings. This is in addition to filing documents with the court office.
4. Preparing for your virtual hearing
When preparing for your virtual hearing, refer to:
- Model Virtual Hearing Protocol that can be modified by the parties and shared with the court at the pre-trial conference or trial management conference;
- Superior Court of Justice’s Best Practices and Etiquette for Remote Hearings; and
- Best Practices for Remote Hearings prepared by the Joint E-Hearings Task Force
5. Etiquette, civility, and cooperation in virtual hearings
For expectations of etiquette, civility, and cooperation in virtual hearings, see:
- Sections C of the Consolidated Notice to the Profession, Litigants, Accused Persons, Public and the Media; and
- Best Practices for Remote Hearings prepared by the Joint E-Hearings Task Force.
6. Pre-trials and motions
When preparing for pre-trials and motions, refer to:
- Best Practices for Remote Hearings prepared by the Joint E-Hearings Task Force; and
- Model Virtual Hearing Protocol that can be modified by the parties and shared with the court at the pre-trial conference.
7. Preparing witnesses for a virtual trial
For preparing witnesses for a virtual trial, see the Best Practices for Remote Hearings prepared by the Joint E-Hearings Task Force.
8. Zoom hearings
a) Identify Yourself
- If you are appearing by zoom, sign in using your first and last name so that your full name appears under your video image. If you are unable to sign in under your own name, please advise the registrar.
- If you are appearing by phone, please provide your name immediately to the registrar so that your phone number can be renamed to your full name
- If you wish, indicate how you should be addressed (e.g. pronouns, prefix)
b) How to Interject/Raise an Objection:
- The recommended practice is to turn on your video and physically raise your hand in front of the camera
- You could also unmute and verbally state “objection”
c) Share Screen
- The host must grant participants the right to share their screen
- The shared screen can be marked up by counsel and witnesses by selecting Annotate in the task bar.
d) Use of Multiple Monitors
- Most trials will require at least two screens to allow you to:
- see the speakers
- see the shared documents
- take notes electronically
- view any other electronic documents such as caselaw
- See the Zoom support page for using dual monitors with the Zoom desktop client
- Lighting should come from a natural source, if possible, and from straight in front of you or above your laptop. Insufficient lighting or a light source that is too low will cause glare if you are wearing glasses
- Practical note: Avoid having any light coming from behind you
f) Backgrounds and Virtual Backgrounds
- Background: For advice on an appropriate space and background, please consult the Best Practices and Etiquette for Remove Hearings. Generally, a neutral background is recommended.
- Virtual Background: You may install an appropriate virtual background if your device permits
g) Breakout Rooms:
- Confidential communications can take place in a breakout room
- Practical note: Breakout rooms are not available when in webinar mode
9. Public and media access to virtual hearings
For information about Public and media access to virtual hearings, see paragraph C. 5 of the Consolidated Notice to the Profession, Litigants, Accused Persons, Public and the Media
May 11, 2021