Supplementary Notice to the Profession and Litigants in Civil and Family Matters Regarding the Caselines Pilot, E-Filing, and Fee Payment

September 2, 2020; updated November 8, 2021

  • Effective November 8, 2021:
    • Section 2 (Electronic Court Filings- Justice Services Online) is amended to:
      • Replace the requirement to file in paper any materials initially filed by email with requirements to maintain documents.
      • Advise that court fees for email filings (past or future) can be paid immediately by phone or cheque, and in accordance with direction made by or on behalf of a Registrar.
  • Effective October 5, 2021:
    • This notice has been amended to clarify the procedure for submitting to the court documents that are, or are proposed to be, subject to a sealing order (Part C, paragraph 8).
  • Effective June 17, 2021:
    • This notice has been amended to provide an update on CaseLines implementation and the requirements to (i) upload documents into a hearing specific sub-bundle (Part C, paragraph 5), (ii) upload pleadings for civil and family matters (Part C, paragraph 13), and (iii) advise the Court of any documents that have been improperly uploaded into CaseLines (Part C, paragraph 14). New provisions have also been added to facilitate the distribution of endorsements and orders via CaseLines (Part D).

1. Document Sharing – CaseLines Pilot Project

The Ministry of the Attorney General procured Thomson Reuters CaseLines for the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. After materials are accepted for filing by the court, parties shall upload electronic copies of their documents into CaseLines for review by all participants before and during a court hearing.  Parties will receive an email from CaseLines containing a link to the case.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about CaseLines are available at: https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/notices-and-orders-covid-19/supplementary-notice-september-2-2020/faq-caselines/.

CaseLines Tips for Counsel and Self-Represented Parties are available at: https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/notices-and-orders-covid-19/supplementary-notice-september-2-2020/caseline-tips/

A. Implementation Update

The status of CaseLines expansion is as follows:

1. Toronto – CaseLines is now available for civil, family and criminal matters. This does not include child protection cases or family cases subject to a sealing order.

2. East and Northwest regions: CaseLines is being used for select civil, family, and criminal proceedings as follows:

East Region:

  • Civil long motions, pre-trials, and trials;
  • Family long motions and trials, in addition to family settlement conferences in Ottawa;
  • Criminal bail reviews, bail hearings and judicial pre-trials (and proceedings subsequent to the judicial pre-trial).

Northwest Region:

  • Civil long motions, pre-trials, and trials;
  • Family case and settlement conferences, contested motions and trials;
  • Criminal bail reviews, bail hearings and judicial pre-trials (and proceedings subsequent to the judicial pre-trial).

3. Central East and Central South regions: CaseLines is being used for select civil, family, and criminal proceedings as follows:

Central East Region:

  • Civil long motions and pre-trials;
  • Family long motions and case conferences;
  • Criminal bail reviews, bail hearings and judicial pre-trials (and proceedings subsequent to the judicial pre-trial).

Central South Region:

  • Civil long motions, pre-trials, and trials;
  • Family long motions, trials, and settlement conferences;
  • Criminal summary conviction appeals, pre-trial motions, bail reviews, bail hearings and judicial pre-trials (and proceedings subsequent to the judicial pre-trial).

4. Roll-out to the Central West, Northeast and Southwest regions: CaseLines is being used for select civil, family, and criminal hearings as follows:

Central West Region:

  • Civil long motions and pre-trials
  • Family case conferences, settlement conferences, and long motions;
  • Criminal pre-trial motions, summary conviction appeals, and prerogative remedies.

Northeast Region:

  • Civil long motions, pre-trials, and trials;
  • Family settlement conferences, long motions, and trials;
  • Criminal judicial pre-trials, pre-trial motions, bail hearings, prerogative remedies, and summary conviction appeals.

Southwest Region:

  • Civil long motions, pre-trials, and trials;
  • Family case conferences, settlement conferences, and trial management conferences;
  • Criminal judicial pre-trials, bail reviews, bail hearings, and summary conviction appeals.

B. About CaseLines

CaseLines is a user-friendly cloud-based document sharing e-hearing platform for remote and in-person court proceedings. Some of the many benefits of CaseLines include:

  • it is easy to use
  • materials of nearly any format can be uploaded and easily organized
  • users can make private notes and highlight documents
  • terms can be searched in all uploaded documents
  • parties can navigate documents and direct opposing counsel and the court to view specific sections, and,
  • users can view uploaded materials anytime

Court documents must continue to be filed with the court before they are uploaded into CaseLines in accordance with the applicable rules of procedure and Notices to the Profession. Parties are also required to upload court documents that have been filed with the Court to CaseLines at least 5 days in advance of the hearing, or at the same time as any filing deadlines that are less than 5 days, unless directed otherwise by regional notice.

C. Parties’ Responsibilities

Counsel and self-represented parties must do the following:

  1. Email Addresses – Include your current email addresses on all filed court documents.
  2. Trusted Sender/Junk Folder – Make CaseLines a trusted sender by saving caselines.com in their contacts list, or regularly check your junk folder for emails from CaseLines.
  3. Register in the Correct Version of CaseLines (i.e. Ontario) – Upon receipt of an email from CaseLines, click the link for one-time registration. You can also register in advance at https://ontariocourts.caselines.com/ by clicking on Register.
  4. Page Limits Abide by page limits set out in the rules of court, practice directions and notices to the profession.
  5. Upload Documents into Hearing Sub-Bundle – After your documents have been filed with the court office, upload them into the sub-bundle created for the hearing (e.g. Motion sub-bundle, Pre-trial sub-bundle, Trial sub-bundle) at least 5 days in advance of the hearing, or at the same time as any filing deadlines that are less than 5 days, unless directed otherwise by regional notice. Do not upload documents into the Master Bundle as it will make them more difficult to find.
  6. Use Document Naming Protocol and Number Your Documents Use the Court’s standard document naming protocol when submitting documents to the court in electronic format. Documents are organized in each sub-bundle numerically, so you can control the order in which your documents appear by adding a number at the beginning of the file name (i.e. 1 Factum – Respondent Smith – 01-JAN-2021). If you upload a new document later, add it to the end of your numerical list so that it does not change the CaseLines-generated document and page numbers.
  7. Affidavits of Service – Upload affidavits of service to CaseLines in all family cases. In civil cases, upload affidavits of service only if service is contested.
  8. Do Not Upload Sealed Documents – Unredacted versions of documents that are or, are proposed to be, the subject of a sealing order should NOT be uploaded into CaseLines. Although the notice of motion for the sealing order can be uploaded, the unredacted document proposed to be sealed must be emailed to the Trial Coordination Office, identifying the case name, court file number and the hearing date (if assigned), together with a request that the document be forwarded to the presiding judge or associate judge as a sealing order is being sought. If the hearing takes place by telephone or videoconference, immediately following the granting of the sealing order, the moving party must enclose an unredacted version of the document in a sealed envelope, append the court order/endorsement to the envelope, and file it in hardcopy at the court office for inclusion in the court file.
  9. Motions for Removal as Lawyer – In motions for removal as lawyer of record under rule 15.04(1.2) and (1.3) of the Rules of Civil Procedure, unredacted motion materials should not be uploaded into CaseLines. Similarly, in motions to remove a lawyer under r. 4 (13) of the Family Law Rules, evidence in support of the motion should not be uploaded into CaseLines. These documents should be emailed to the Trial Coordination Office for delivery to the judicial official, unless a regional practice direction or notice to the profession provides for another method of delivery.
  10. Exhibits – Documents to be marked as an exhibit by the in-court registrar should be uploaded separately, as only one electronic exhibit stamp can be added per document.
  11. Participant Information Form – Prior to, or during, each hearing, upload into the hearing sub-bundle a completed Participant Information form. Where possible, the moving party for the event is asked to coordinate with other parties to complete one form for the hearing. In criminal matters, each party may upload their own form. The participant information form must be saved using the court’s document naming convention (e.g. Participant Information – All Parties – 01-JUN-2021 or Participant Information – Applicant Smith – 01-JUN-2021).
  12. Upload Prior Orders and Endorsements – Parties must ensure that all previous orders and endorsements in the case have been uploaded into the Orders and Endorsements sub-bundle in CaseLines so they can be accessed by the judiciary at future hearings. In family cases, if neither party is represented by counsel, assistance is available from the filing office to help upload documents into CaseLines.
  13. Upload Pleadings – In civil and family cases, parties must ensure that all pleadings have been uploaded into the Pleadings sub-bundle in CaseLines. In family cases, parties must also upload Form 35.1/A affidavits so they can be accessed at upcoming events.
  14. Note Any Documents Improperly Uploaded into CaseLines – Parties should identify any inappropriate documents that have been uploaded by opposing parties by making a case note in CaseLines specifying the document/s and why it/they should not have been uploaded. Where a confirmation form is required for the event, any documents that have been improperly uploaded should also be noted on that form.

D. Release of Orders and Endorsements

Where an event was heard using CaseLines, court staff may release orders and endorsements to the parties by uploading them to CaseLines instead of sending them by e-mail, subject to any direction from the presiding judicial official. You can locate these documents by accessing the Orders and Endorsements sub-bundle in CaseLines.

2. Electronic Court Filings – Justice Services Online

Counsel and parties continue to be discouraged from physically attending courthouses to file documents in person.

Where possible, counsel and parties are encouraged to issue and file their documents electronically by using the Ministry’s Justice Services Online (JSO) platform, including the Civil Submissions Online, Family Submissions Online, and Small Claims Court Submissions Online portals, or email, as directed below and in each Region’s Notice to the Profession, to minimize the number of people who need to attend courthouses. Please note that Small Claims Court plaintiff’s claims and amended plaintiff’s claims can be filed electronically through ServiceOntario’s Small Claims Court E-Filing Service portal.

The Court will continue to accept limited filings by e-mail at the specific e-mail addresses indicated in each Region’s Notice to the Profession as follows:

  • For matters that are urgent, including requests for an urgent hearing;
  • Documents that must be filed for a court date that is no more than 5 business days away; and,
  • Documents that must be filed for a deadline that is no more than 5 business days away.

All other electronic filings should be made through the appropriate portal.

The Court will accept filings by email at the specific email addresses indicated in a Region’s Notice to the Profession or the Consolidated Notice to the Profession and Public Regarding the Small Claims Court only for matters that are urgent or have been directed to be filed by e-mail in this document or the applicable notice.

Unless the court directs otherwise, where counsel and parties deliver materials by email, they must:

For civil matters:

  1. maintain any documents that were originally signed, certified or commissioned in paper format until the thirtieth day after the appeal period expires.
  2. on the request of the court, a Registrar or another party, make the original document available for inspection no later than five days after the request is made.

For family matters:

  1. retain any documents that were originally signed, certified or commissioned in paper format until the day on which the case is finally disposed of or, if no notice of appeal is served in the case, the time for serving the notice has expired, subject to any requirement in the Family Law Rules to give the document to the clerk before that day; and
  2. promptly make the original document available for inspection and copying on the request of the court or of any party to the case.

These requirements to maintain and produce documents for inspection replace the former requirement to file a paper copy of a document at the court upon the resumption of normal court operations. Lawyers and parties should not file a paper copy of a document that was filed by email, unless the court directs otherwise.

Court fees for documents that were filed by email between March 16, 2020 to date, can now be paid to the Ministry of the Attorney General over the phone through a secure credit card transaction. Phone fee payments can also be made for documents that are filed by email pursuant to this Notice and Regional Notices. Court office phone numbers can be found on the Ministry of the Attorney General’s website.

Court fee payments may also be sent by mail or courier to the court office or provided at the court office. Cheque payments must be accompanied by a covering letter that indicates the court file number and title of proceeding, identifies the document that was filed by email, date of the email filing, party who filed the document by email and the name of the representative of the party (if any).

Information about requesting a fee waiver can be found in the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Court Fee Waiver Guide and Forms.

Court fees must be paid in accordance with a direction made by or on behalf of the Registrar.

Family e-Filing

The Family Submissions Online portal is authorized to accept the electronic filing of most documents in a family law or child protection case, along with any necessary filing fees, except for the documents that should be emailed directly to the court as noted above. New applications and motions to change can also be filed through this portal, along with requests for fee waivers.

Once accepted by the court clerk, documents will be considered to have been issued or filed on the date indicated in the document.

In addition, several family court documents relating to a simple or joint divorce may continue to be filed electronically by using the Ministry’s Family Claims Online Portal in accordance with the Family Law Rules.

If CaseLines is not yet being used for the event, counsel and parties are asked to submit copies of orders and endorsements via Family Submissions Online so that they can be accessed by the court for upcoming events. This should include any order that remains in effect as well as any relevant endorsements, including endorsements that were made before electronic files were available to the Court. If neither party is represented by counsel in a family case, assistance is available from the filing office to upload these documents.

Civil and Small Claims Court e-Filing

Civil court documents may be electronically filed and/or issued by using the existing Civil Claims Online Portal or the new Civil Submissions Online Portal, as appropriate, in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure.

Small Claims Court documents may be electronically filed and/or issued by using the Small Claims Court E-Filing Service portal or the Small Claims Court Submissions Online portal, as appropriate, in accordance with the Rules of the Small Claims Court and the Consolidated Notice to the Profession and Public Regarding the Small Claims Court.

3. Ministry of the Attorney General – Contact Centre

Members of the public can call or email the Ministry’s Contact Centre for assistance with the Justice Services Online portal and CaseLines.

JSO Contact Centre information:

4. Non-Urgent Matters

The court continues to hear both urgent and non-urgent matters in accordance with each Region’s Notice to the Profession. Please refer to the Court’s regional and Small Claims Court COVID notices.

5. Consent and Capacity Board Appeals

Appeals from the Consent and Capacity Board are being heard by the Court. In Toronto, these motions will be scheduled in Civil Practice Court. In all other regions they are treated as long motions. Please refer to each Region’s Notice to the Profession for the process to bring these matters before the Court or contact the Regional Manager for further process clarification.

Geoffrey B. Morawetz,
Chief Justice

Amended: September 2, 2020; December 17, 2020, January 7, 2021, February 24, 2021, April 9, 2021, April 19, 2021,  June 17, 2021 and October 5, 2021