Supplementary Notice to the Profession and Litigants in Civil and Family Matters Including Electronic Filings and Document Sharing (Caselines Pilot) (September 2, 2020)

1. Document Sharing – CaseLines Pilot Project

The Ministry of the Attorney General has procured Thomson Reuters CaseLines for the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. A two-week test phase began on August 10, 2020 for selected civil motions and pre-trial conferences in Toronto.

Multiple CaseLines information sessions were held over the past few weeks. A video tutorial of CaseLines is now available on the SCJ website by clicking here. A recorded CaseLines information session is also available at the following link: https://vimeo.com/448576991.

Counsel and self-represented parties are reminded that their updated email addresses should be included in documents filed with the court. In addition, we ask that counsel add their email addresses to their Law Society of Ontario (LSO) directory listings.

Implementation Update

During the two-week test period, the court received positive feedback from individuals who participated in CaseLines information sessions. We also learned that CaseLines users would benefit from additional customization of the platform to mirror our court’s processes. As a result, there will be a 2-week hiatus while this customization is completed.

Counsel and their staff also indicated that they would like more time to upload documents and familiarize themselves with CaseLines in advance of their hearings. In response to this feedback, efforts will be made to provide counsel with more lead time to upload their documents. During the week of September 7, 2020, new matters will be added to CaseLines and notifications will be sent to parties for hearings scheduled the week of September 21st.

In summary, parties will receive email notifications that CaseLines will be used in their hearings in:

  • Toronto civil cases starting the week of September 21st
  • Toronto Divisional Court cases starting in October, and
  • Toronto Commercial and Estate List cases starting in November.

Parties will continue to file documents with the court in accordance with the rules of court and Notices to the Profession.

Work on customizing CaseLines for Toronto family cases will take place this fall as the family practice area is next in priority for CaseLines expansion.

About CaseLines

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
  • 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, with or without VPN access.

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 3 days in advance of their attendances so that documents can be viewed by parties and the judiciary before and during hearings.

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, click the registration link to register. 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 court documents into CaseLines in advance of hearings. Regional Notices will direct when documents must be uploaded to CaseLines in advance of a scheduled hearing; and
  5. use the following document naming convention when saving documents to be uploaded into CaseLines – the type of document, the type of party filing the document, and the date (Please note that the date format is particularly important – DD-MMM-YYYY):

For example, documents could be saved with the following names:

Notice of Motion-Moving Party 14-JUL-2020
Notice of Application-Applicant 21-NOV-2020
Statement of Defence-Defendant 02-JAN-2021
Compendium-Responding Party 03-MAR-2021
Factum-Intervenor 11-NOV-2020

Is CaseLines integrated with the Ministry’s Justice Services Online Portal?

At this time, CaseLines is not integrated with the Justice Services Online portal described in section 2 below. As a result, parties will be required to upload their court documents into CaseLines in advance of their hearings, after having first filed their documents. We continue to work toward the ultimate goal of having an end-to-end e-filing service that will allow for a single upload of documents into a document sharing platform.

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 email 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.

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 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,
Chief Justice.