September 2, 2020; updated December 17, 2020 and January 7, 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 allows parties to upload electronic copies of their documents for review by all participants before and during a court hearing. A two-week test period began on August 10, 2020 for selected civil motions and pre-trial conferences in Toronto. The pilot resumed in mid-September after a short hiatus to further customize the platform.
CaseLines has now been implemented in Civil and Divisional Court matters in Toronto and will soon expand to Toronto Family matters. The Court began by identifying a small number of cases to be included in the pilot and gradually increasing the number of weekly hearings scheduled to use CaseLines. As of October 21, 2020:
- 462 cases were created in CaseLines
- 120,000 pages of court documents were uploaded, and
- 2000 individuals registered to use CaseLines
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Thomson Reuters CaseLines are provided in the following link: https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/notices-and-orders-covid-19/supplementary-notice-september-2-2020/faq-caselines/
The schedule for upcoming CaseLines expansion is as follows:
- Toronto Commercial and Estate List – Select Commercial and Estate List matters scheduled for hearings on or after November 16, 2020 will begin using CaseLines. Starting on November 2nd, staff will begin creating cases in CaseLines for these matters, giving parties time before the hearing date to familiarize themselves with the platform and upload their documents. Parties are advised that documents must be uploaded 5 days prior to the hearing.
- Toronto Registrar in Bankruptcy matters – Matters to be heard by the Registrar in Bankruptcy in Toronto will follow the same implementation timelines as above.
- Toronto Family – CaseLines will expand to select Toronto family matters scheduled for hearings on or after December 7, 2020. Starting on November 23rd, staff will begin creating cases in CaseLines for these matters and parties will receive notice if CaseLines will be used for their upcoming event. Additional resources are being developed for self-represented litigants.
- Toronto Criminal – Planning for use of CaseLines in Toronto criminal matters has begun. The start date has not been set for use in criminal matters.
- Roll-out to Other Regions – Expansion of the CaseLines pilot to two additional judicial regions will take place in early spring 2021. It is expected that all judicial regions will be using CaseLines by the end of 2021.
CaseLines is a user-friendly cloud-based document sharing and storage e-hearing platform for remote and in-person court proceedings. Some of the many benefits of CaseLines include:
- user-friendly interface
- materials of any size and file format can be uploaded and easily organized
- users can make private notes and highlights on documents
- terms can be searched in all uploaded documents
- parties can navigate documents and redirect opposing counsel and the court to view specific sections, and
- users can view uploaded materials anytime
As noted above, court documents must continue to be filed with the court in accordance with the applicable rules of procedure and Notices to the Profession. Parties will also be required to upload court documents to CaseLines at least 5 days in advance of their attendances so that documents can be viewed by parties and the judiciary before and during hearings, or at the same time as any filing deadlines that are fewer than 5 days.
New Responsibilities for Parties
Counsel and self-represented parties must:
- include their current email address on all filed court documents;
- make CaseLines a trusted sender by saving caselines.com in their contacts list, or regularly check their junk folder for emails from CaseLines;
- upon receipt of an email from CaseLines, click the registration link to register. You can also register in advance at https://ontariocourts.caselines.com/ by clicking on Register;
- 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 will direct when documents must be uploaded to CaseLines in advance of a scheduled hearing; and
- use the following document naming convention when submitting documents to the court in electronic format — each document name must indicate the following information:
- document type (including the form number in family cases),
- type of party submitting the document,
- name of the party submitting the document (including initials if the name is not unique to the case), and
- date on which the document was created or signed, in the format DD-MMM-YYYY (e.g. 12-JAN-2021).
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
This simple, user-friendly document naming protocol will allow the judiciary to quickly and easily identify documents during virtual and in-person hearings.
- not upload the document into CaseLines if requesting a sealing order for that document. Instead, please email the document to the Trial Coordination Office identifying the court file number, the hearing date (if assigned), and requesting that it be emailed to the judge because a sealing order will be sought.
- upload each document to be marked as an exhibit by the in-court registrar separately as only one electronic exhibit stamp can be added per document.
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 use 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 to file their documents.
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.
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 file 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.
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.
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 plaintiff’s claims should continue to be filed through the Small Claims Online filing platform.
3. 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.
4. 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 will be 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.
Geoffrey B. Morawetz,