January 15, 2021
- The Ministry of the Attorney General (the ministry), in collaboration with the Superior Court of Justice (SCJ), is introducing CaseLines in criminal matters. CaseLines is a cloud-based document sharing platform that supports remote and in-person court proceedings.
- CaseLines is part of the ministry’s work to establish new and innovative ways of administering justice, including supporting new ways of conducting proceedings, more remote proceedings and moving more services online.
- CaseLines is a user-friendly, online service that allows:
- Crown and defence counsel to share filed court documents of any size and file format prior to and during a specific court event;
- Judicial officials and court staff to access materials for the event and send additional materials such as notices to counsel, orders or reasons for decision; and
- Access 24/7 with or without VPN.
- The ministry and the SCJ piloted CaseLines through selected civil proceedings at the 330 University Avenue courthouse and selected family proceedings at the 361 University Avenue courthouse in Toronto. Now, the platform is expanding to selected criminal matters at the 361 University Avenue courthouse in early 2021.
- CaseLines does not replace Court filing. Crown and defence counsel must file materials with the court by email in advance in accordance with the applicable rules in the Criminal Proceedings Rules and Criminal Code and in accordance with the Court’s Practice Directions.
- Commencing January 25, 2021 the Criminal Intake Office (room 241) staff will begin issuing invitations to Crown and defence counsel to upload their materials for hearings scheduled two-weeks later. Crown and defence counsel will receive an email from the Criminal Intake Office staff at Room 241 asking counsel to upload their material for the event into a specific CaseLines folder for the case.
- The first hearings that will use CaseLines will be on February 8, 2021 and thereafter.
- The focus of the pilot stage will be on summary conviction appeals, applications for prerogative remedies/special motions and pre-trial motions (with the Caselines file remaining open to be used for hearings materials throughout the subsequent trial in those select cases).
- It is expected that counsel will upload their materials into CaseLines unless directed otherwise by this Notice or by specific direction of the judge that
- CaseLines is not be used for this matter.
- Certain documents will not be appropriate for uploading onto CaseLines by the direction of the judge or by this Notice.
- Commencing January 25, any newly scheduled pretrial motion, Summary Conviction Appeal or application for prerogative remedy scheduled to be heard from February 8, 2021 onward, where accused persons are represented, will involve CaseLines.
- Most previously scheduled pretrial motions, appeals or applications for prerogative remedies set to be heard from February 8, 2021 onward, where accused persons are represented, will also use CaseLines.
- Once a CaseLines file is opened and used in a pretrial motion, it is anticipated that CaseLines will be used in the subsequent trial related to those matters.
In criminal matters, CaseLines access will be limited to the judiciary, court staff, lawyers and their necessary Crown and defence staff requiring access.
Counsel are prohibited from inviting their clients/accused persons to access CaseLines.
Counsel are required to make other arrangements to share documents, as appropriate, with their clients.
No matters involving self-represented persons will use CaseLines.
No matters relating to child pornography will use CaseLines.
No document referring to a confidential informant will be placed on CaseLines.
While CaseLines can be used for most hearings, some documents should not be uploaded onto CaseLines. Unless specifically directed by the court to do otherwise, Crown and defence counsel will not upload the following documents into CaseLines:
- A sealed document
- A document for which a sealing order is sought
- A privileged document, or a document where privilege is being asserted
- Any other document where counsel have concerns about uploading
Any concerns about which documents can/cannot be uploaded should be raised at a judicial pretrial with the judge who will provide counsel with direction. Counsel should ensure that this direction is placed on the record at the subsequent court appearance to be endorsed on the indictment or other written record by the Registrar.
Crown and defence counsel are to make every effort to assist the staff at the Criminal Intake Office (room 241). Crown and defence counsel should advise Room 241 immediately in such situations where counsel receive an inadvertent invitation to upload materials to CaseLines in a child pornography matter, or any matter where the judge has directed counsel not to use CaseLines, or where counsel is aware the accused person is now unrepresented or has changed counsel.
Further, where defence and/or Crown counsel become aware of an upcoming matter where CaseLines fits within these guidelines and no CaseLines invitation is received, they should confer with each other and contact the Criminal Intake office (room 241).
New Responsibilities for Crown and defence counsel, CSD staff
- CaseLines does not replace service and court filing. Crown and defence counsel must serve and file materials with the court by email in accordance with the applicable rules in the Criminal Proceedings Rules and Criminal Code and in accordance with the notices.
- Court Services Division must maintain the electronic file in the appropriate system that has been developed for maintaining the Court record.
- Counsel must have a current email on file with the court. Counsel must ensure that their current email address is included on all court filings. 
- Parties must make CaseLines a trusted sender by saving firstname.lastname@example.org in their contacts list, or regularly check their junk folder for emails from CaseLines.
- Upon receipt of an email from CaseLines, which will be sent approximately two weeks prior to the hearing, click the registration link to register. Counsel can also register in advance at https://ontariocourts.caselines.com/ by clicking on Register. It is recommended that counsel prepare for this by creating an account in CaseLines in advance.
- For pretrial motions: Crown and defence counsel must upload materials to CaseLines no later than the Thursday before the week before the motion is to be heard.
For Summary Conviction Appeals/ Prerogative Remedies – in accordance with the direction of the Court in Practice Court.
- If the Court provides any direction at a judicial pretrial that a matter should not use CaseLines or any special instructions regarding whether certain documents can/cannot be uploaded onto CaseLines, counsel is responsible for placing this information on the record so that the Registrar can endorse the record in writing.
- Use the following document naming convention:
When documents are submitted to the court in electronic format, the document name must indicate the following information:
- Document type
- 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 DDMMM-YYYY (e.g. 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. This direction has been incorporated into Part C of the Consolidated Notice to the Profession, Litigants, Accused Persons, Public and the Media.
- Do 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.
- If uploading documents that will require the in-court registrar to stamp as exhibits, please upload these documents individually as only one electronic exhibit stamp can be added per document.
- If other lawyers or their staff require access to the case in CaseLines, counsel may invite them by selecting the “Invite New Participant” button found on the People’s tab on CaseLinesbut accused persons (includes appellants/applicants and respondents), victims, witnesses, police are not to be invited.
It is recommended that counsel and their staff view one of the training tools that is available on the court’s website and review the Frequently Asked Questions About CaseLines. These tools will help familiarize counsel and their staff with CaseLines and understand how it can help with the materials during the hearing. More live training will be offered prior to the roll out of CaseLines to additional regions.
If support to resolve technical issues is required, contact Thomson Reuter’s technical support at 1-800-290-9378 and select either “CaseLines” or “Evidence Sharing” when you reach the directory, or email email@example.com. This support is available from 8 AM to 5 PM (Monday – Friday).
Suggestions for improvements to CaseLines, should be directed to the Office of the Chief Justice by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Court Use of CaseLines
CaseLines will enable Crown and defence counsel to electronically share documents with the judiciary in advance of the hearing. During the hearing Crown and defence counsel and the judge can view the document on the same electronic format.
In cases where the accused person needs to have access to the shared documents, defence counsel will be responsible for making arrangements for hard copies or make other arrangements.
Justice Stephen E. Firestone
Regional Senior Judge
Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Toronto Region
 In accordance with any undertakings given not to share copies of such materials as sexual assault interviews.
 Although the hearing may use CaseLines for all other documents, these specific documents will not be uploaded.
 If counsel receive an invitation on a matter where they are aware the party is now self-represented or has changed counsel, counsel should notify the Criminal Intake Office as soon as possible.