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News from The Courts

The Toronto Sittings Project

An important update for Personal Injury and Insurance Defence Litigators

Commencing in the fall of 2017 in the Toronto Region, all two to three week personal injury jury cases (excluding medical malpractice actions) will only be scheduled for month-long jury trial sittings.  All such cases with fixed trial dates will automatically be moved into the trial sittings.
The sittings will take place two times per year: November and June.

In 2017, the four week sittings will commence on November 27. In 2018, the four week sittings will commence on June 4.  Further trial sittings for the fall of 2018 and beyond will be considered depending upon the success of this project.

These months have been chosen because they do not conflict with sittings in Central West and Central East. The sittings are designed to reduce the times out to trials in Toronto. Two to three week personal injury cases have been chosen for this project because most two to three week jury trials involve personal injury matters and they have a very high settlement rate. During the sittings, several courtrooms will be available. Given historic settlement rates it is anticipated that all scheduled cases that do not settle will be reached during the sittings.

All two to three week jury trials that are currently scheduled for September-December 2017 will be moved into the November sittings. Similarly, all two to three week jury trials presently scheduled for January-June 2018 will be moved into the June sittings. Pre-trials that have already been scheduled for these cases in 2017/2018 will remain as scheduled. There will also be a pre-trial blitz prior to each sitting.

The Toronto trial office will soon be in touch with the lawyers involved in the affected two to three week personal injury jury trials to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.

Any questions concerning the sittings can be directed to the project coordinator Theodora Apostolopoulos.

Alternatively, you can direct them to Margaret Waddell, who is the TLA's representative on the Toronto Civil Bench and Bar Committee.

Notice to the profession regarding the implementation of reforms to Rule 48.14 (Dismissal for Delay)

As the bar will be aware, a number of changes were made to Rule 48.14 of the Rules of Civil Procedure (Dismissal of Action for Delay) in 2015.  This notice is being sent as a courtesy reminder to the profession because automatic dismissal orders under the new rule will be generated beginning January 1, 2017.  Read the full notice from the Ministry of the Attorney General here.

Increased Court Fees coming effective July 1, 2016

The TLA has been informed by the Ministry of the Attorney General that it plans to introduce new court fees effective July 1, 2016. The plan is to increase fees by, on average, 36%. Over the past 10 years, the cost of operating the courts has increased by more than 40 per cent, while most court fees have stayed the same. 

The Ministry of the Attorney General advises that the fee increase is necessary to sustain quality of services over the long term, and is meant to provide some of the necessary funds required to modernize our justice system through investing in programs and services that make our courts more modern and responsive to the people they serve.

As a result, effective July 1, 2016, the Ministry of the Attorney General is proposing the following regulatory changes:

  • increasing civil, small claims and family court fees based on the Ontario Consumer Price Index;

  • introducing new family fees for custody, access and support cases in both the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice; and

  • aligning fee amounts for similar types of transactions in different business lines to make fees easier to understand and administer, and provide greater consistency in fees across practice areas.

The TLA is pleased that the Ministry of the Attorney General has identified that the Ontario civil justice system is in dire need of modernization, including improved programming and services. It will be seeking assurances from the Ministry that the revenue from these increased fees is used for these intended purposes.

Prioritizing Children 

Chief Justice Heather J. Smith of the Superior Court of Ontario made the annoucement in her September 2012 Opening of Courts remarks that the Superior Court is prioritizing its focus on improving the family court process in matters involving children-at-risk, such as high conflict and child protection cases. To that end, the Court published its Prioritizing Children - Statement of Objectives in December 2012. The full text is available as PDF here.

Protocol On The Use Of Electronic Devices in the Courtroom

Judges are increasingly faced with requests to use electronic devices to "tweet" or post publicly accessible, live communications over the internet from the courtroom. In response, the Superior Court of Justice undertook 8 months of court-wide consultation to develop its own protocol. Effective February 1, 2013, the protocol applies to counsel, licensed paralegals, law students and law clerks assisting counsel, self-represented litigants, media or journalists and the public. The full text of the new protocol is available on the Superior Court website.

Undertaking of Counsel/Licenced Paralegal of Record to the Court for Access to Digital Court Recordings

The Superior Court of Justice has announced revisions to this document in English and French. The revised undertakings will be incorporated into the Superior Court of Justice and Ontario Court of Justice policies on the release of digital court recordings effective May 1, 2014 and can be accessed, as of that date, on the Courts’ websites. A copy of the letter from Executive Legal Officers, Roslyn Levine and Lori Newton is available here; it contains links to the pertinent Court's websites.

New Model for Producing Court Transcripts in Ontario, Effective June 9, 2014

On June 9, 2014 the Ministry of the Attorney General is implementing a new model for producing court transcripts in Ontario. If you are ordering court transcripts on or after June 9, 2014, you must now select and contact and independent, authorized court transcriptionist from the List of Authorized Court Transcriptionists for Ontario. 

The list is administered and maintained by an independent service provider and is available online at: http://www.courttranscriptontario.ca/. This website contains information on the new model for producing court transcripts in Ontario, including how to place a transcript order.

Notice of Superior Court of Justice Practice Directions, Effective July 1, 2014

In 2013-2014, the Superior Court of Justice undertook to review and consolidate all of its Regional and Provincial Practice Directions. The objective of the review was an administrative re-set to identify and eliminate obsolete and redundant Practice Directions. The review also sought to consolidate, simplify and better organize the Practice Directions that were to remain in effect. The Court has now re-issued consolidated provincial and regional Practice Directions for all proceedings in the Superior Court of Justice. These Practice Directions take effect July 1, 2014 and all other previously issued Superior Court of Justice Practice Directions are revoked. The complete text of the Practice Directions may be accessed at the Ontario Court's website.

Superior Court of Justice of Ontario, Toronto Civil Cases - Chambers Appointments

Parties may now request a chambers appointment for Toronto civil cases. These appointments are intended to be for short contested matters which do not require evidence, or for unopposed or on consent matters including amendments to timetables and scheduling issues. Chambers appointments are held before a judge for 15 minutes at a date and time to be fixed by the assigned judge. To obtain a chambers appointment, parties must complete one of 3 standard chambers appointment request forms: long trials, short trials, or motions.

Notice to Defense Counsel - Rowbotham Pilot Project in Superior Court, Toronto

Parties may now request a chambers appointment for Toronto civil cases. These appointments are intended to be for short contested matters which do not require evidence, or for unopposed or on consent matters including amendments to timetables and scheduling issues. Chambers appointments are held before a judge for 15 minutes at a date and time to be fixed by the assigned judge. To obtain a chambers appointment, parties must complete one of 3 standard chambers appointment request forms: long trials, short trials, or motions.

Notice to the Profession - Changes to the Family Law Rules - In Force June 10, 2015

Please note that O.Reg.140/151 came into force on June 10, 2015. In summary, this regulation amends Rule 6 (Service of Documents) to allow service of documents through an electronic document exchange and service by email. This regulation also clarifies the effective dates of service for each service delivery method. In addition there are a few miscellaneous amendments. For a summary of the amendments, please click here. 

Update on the New Toronto Courthouse

On August 20, 2015, Deputy Attorney General Monahan advised the new Toronto courthouse would be constructed for Ontario Court of Justice adult and youth criminal matters only. The full letter to the Toronto Region Staff is available here.

Annual Ceremony to Mark the Opening of the Courts - 2015

The Honourable George R. Strathy, Chief Justice of Ontario, the Honourable Heather J. Smith, Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice, the Honourable Lise Maisonneuve, Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, and the Law Society of Upper Canada are pleased to advise that the ceremony to mark the Opening of the Courts for Ontario will be held on Thursday, September 24, 2015. The Ceremony will take place at 3:30 p.m. in Courtroom 6-1 of the Toronto Court House at 361 University Avenue.

Two New Practice Advisories Regarding Motions Court in the Toronto Region of Ontario Superior Court of Justice

There are two new Practice Advisories regarding Motions Court in the Toronto Region of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. These Practice Advisories can be accessed here and we encourage you to read them in full as they apply to both new and existing motion dates.

Policy on the Release of Digital Court Recordings

The Superior Court of Justice has given advance notice to the legal profession of the release of a new Policy on the Release of Digital Court Recordings. A copy of the notification letter from Roslyn J. Levine, Q.C., Executive Legal Officer, can be accessed here. The new policy will enhance public access to Superior Court of Justice proceedings. The policy provides an efficient and streamlined process for counsel, litigants, accused, and designated media to obtain digital recordings by signing an undertaking with the court. Full details are available on the Superior Court website.