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 April 9, 2021

1. Document Sharing – CaseLines Pilot Project

The Ministry of the Attorney General has procured Thomson Reuters CaseLines for the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. After materials are filed with the court in accordance with the applicable rules of court and Notices to the Profession, CaseLines provides a platform for parties to upload electronic copies of their documents for review by all participants before and during a court hearing.

CaseLines has now been implemented in Toronto civil, Divisional Court, family and criminal matters and will expand to additional regions shortly.

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

Implementation Update

The schedule for CaseLines expansion is as follows:

  1. Toronto Family – CaseLines was expanded to select Toronto family matters scheduled for hearings in December, 2020. This does not include child protection cases or cases that are subject to a sealing order. Parties will receive notice if CaseLines will be used for their upcoming event. Upon receipt of this notice, parties are directed to upload their material that has been filed with the court into CaseLines. Additional resources are being developed to assist self-represented litigants.
  2. Toronto Criminal – Effective February 8, 2021, select criminal matters are being heard through CaseLines.
  3. Roll-out to the East and Northwest regions: Effective Monday, March 1, 2021, CaseLines will expand to the East and Northwest regions. The platform will first be used for selected civil, family and criminal proceedings:

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).
  1. Roll-out to the Central East and Central South regions: Effective Monday, April 19, 2021, CaseLines will expand to the Central East and Central South regions. The platform will first be used for selected civil, family and criminal proceedings:

Central East Region:

    • Civil long motions, pre-trials and 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).
  1. Roll-out to Other Regions – Province-wide expansion of the CaseLines pilot will continue throughout spring and the early summer. It is expected that all judicial regions will be using CaseLines by the end of summer 2021.

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 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.

New Responsibilities for Parties

Counsel and self-represented parties must:

  1. Include their current email address on all filed court documents;
  2. Make CaseLines a trusted sender by saving caselines.com in their contacts list, or regularly check their junk folder for emails from CaseLines;
  3. Upon receipt of an email from CaseLines, if they have not already done so, click the link for one-time registration. You can also register in advance at https://ontariocourts.caselines.com/ by clicking on Register;
  4. In accordance with page limits set out in the rules of court, practice directions and Notices to the Profession, upload their court documents for the upcoming event into CaseLines in advance of hearings. Regional Notices may also direct when documents for certain cases must be uploaded to CaseLines in advance of a scheduled hearing;
  5. Use the following document naming convention when submitting documents to the court in electronic format — each document name must indicate the following information:
      1. document type (including the form number in family cases),
      2. type of party submitting the document,
      3. name of the party submitting the document (including initials if the name is not unique to the case), and
      4. date on which the document was created or signed, in the format DD-MMM-YYYY (e.g. 12-JAN-2021).

Document names shall not include firm-specific naming conventions, abbreviations, or file numbers. Form numbers are only to be included in the names of documents submitted in family cases.

Below are sample document names:

Expert Report – Defendant – Loblaws Inc. – 13-MAR-2021
Financial Statement Form 13.1 – Respondent – A. Wong – 21-NOV-2021
11b Application – Defence – Nathanson – 12-JAN-2021

Documents are organized under each section numerically so that you can control the order in which your documents appear. Add 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, you will want to add it to the end of your list so that it does not change the order and page numbers that have been allocated to documents that have already been uploaded.

This document naming protocol will allow the judiciary to quickly and easily identify documents during virtual and in-person hearings;

  1. Upload affidavits of service to CaseLines in all family cases. In civil cases, they should be uploaded only if service is contested.
  2. Documents that are or are expected to be the subject of a sealing order should NOT be uploaded into CaseLines. These documents should be emailed to the Trial Coordination Office, identifying the court file number and the hearing date (if assigned) along with a request that the documents be forwarded via email to the presiding judge where a sealing order will be sought. 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 and instead should be emailed to the Trial Coordination Office.  Similarly, in motions to remove a lawyer under r. 4 (13) of the Family Law Rules, evidence in support of the motion should be emailed to the Trial Coordination Office and not uploaded into CaseLines; and
  3. Upload each document to be marked as an exhibit during a hearing by the in-court registrar separately as only one electronic exhibit stamp can be added per document.

Orders and Endorsements

Each CaseLines file will include an orders/endorsements sub-bundle. Before your first CaseLines event, counsel and parties are asked to upload copies of orders and endorsements into this sub-bundle if they have not already been uploaded so that they can be accessed 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 help upload these documents.

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 newly expanded Justice Services Online (JSO) platform, including the Civil Submissions Online and Family 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.

The Court will continue to accept 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 JSO portal. Previous delays in processing documents filed through the portal have been rectified.

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

Where counsel and parties deliver materials by email, subject to direction from the Court, they undertake to file the same materials in paper format, and pay the requisite filing fee, at the court when regular court operations resume. This includes preparation of the court’s Continuing Record for family cases.

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 available in the region, counsel and parties are asked to upload copies of orders and endorsements via Family Submissions Online so that they can be accessed 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 help upload these documents.

Civil 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. Documents were eligible for filing and issuance through the Civil Submissions Online portal as of August 5, 2020.

Small Claims Court documents may be electronically filed and/or issued by using the Small Claims Court E-Filing Service portal or the new Small Claims Court Submissions Online portal, as appropriate, in accordance with the Consolidated Notice to the Profession and Public Regarding the Small Claims Court. Documents were eligible for filing and issuance through the Small Claims Court Submissions Online portal as of January 25, 2021.

3. Ministry of the Attorney General – Contact Centre

Members of the public can call or email the Justice Services Online (JSO) Contact Centre for assistance if they encounter technical issues with e-filing through Justice Services Online [Civil Claims, Small Claims, Family Claims] or with 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 COVID notices for a list of the non-urgent matters that may be heard in each Region.

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. In regions where long motions are not being heard, only urgent CCB appeals may be heard at this time. 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