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On May 28, 2021, a regulation was filed to amend court rules and forms for civil proceedings in the Superior Court of Justice: O. Reg. 383/21, amending the Rules of Civil Procedure.
The regulation makes administrative amendments to align the Rules of Civil Procedure with amendments to the Courts of Justice Act that were introduced to replace references to “case management master” with references to “associate judge”. The legislative amendments were made through the Accelerating Access to Justice Act, 2021, Schedule 3.
The regulation also makes amendments to remove the option of providing a confirmation of application or motion form to the registrar by fax.
Amendments to the estate rules achieve consistency in the use of the term “certificate of appointment of estate trustee” and make consequential amendments to recent rule changes establishing a simplified probate process for small estates (O. Reg. 111/21). Effective May 28, 2021.
The regulation amends 59 rules and 14 forms.
A summary of the regulation is available on Ontario’s Regulatory Registry at: 21-MAG016
SMALL ESTATE FORMS: Forms for Small Estates are posted on the Ontario Court Forms site here: Rules of Civil Procedure Forms | Ontario Court Services (ontariocourtforms.on.ca). There is another section on the court forms site that includes pre-formatted and fillable estates forms (Rules of Civil Procedure Forms / Pre-formatted, Fillable Estates Forms | Ontario Court Services (ontariocourtforms.on.ca).
On April 6, 2021, a regulation was filed to amend court rules and forms for civil proceedings in the Superior Court of Justice: O. Reg. 248/21, amending the Rules of Civil Procedure.
The administrative amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure achieve consistency with recent civil rule and form amendments establishing electronic processes in civil court proceedings (O. Reg. 689/20), as well as amendments establishing a simplified probate process for small estates (O. Reg. 111/21).
The amending regulation also makes administrative amendments to introduce consistent French-language terminology and correct discrepancies between the English and French versions of various rules and forms.
The regulation amends 23 rules and 43 forms. A summary of the regulation is available on Ontario’s Regulatory Registry at: 21-MAG010
The amendments are effective April 6, 2021.
As of January 1, 2021, civil and estates court staff can:
1. electronically issue any court document that requires issuance in a civil proceeding in the Superior Court of Justice and Divisional Court, pursuant to rule 4.05 (1.1) of the Rules of Civil Procedure. Documents that are eligible for electronic issuance include court orders, applications and Certificates of Appointment of Estate Trustee.
2. electronically certify any civil and estates court document that requires certification, pursuant to rule 4.03(2) of the Rules of Civil Procedure.
MAG has filed two regs to establish a small estate process in Ont. (both effective April 1):
*you will need a ONe-Key account
On May 8th, 2020, the Attorney General issued a Press Release stating that Ontario will not proceed with the Halton Region Consolidated Courthouse construction project. You can read the announcement here.
Letter to the AG from the Halton Law Association requesting that the government reconsider their decision.
MAG GUIDEBOOK-PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES FOR REOPENING COURTS;
(the Guidebook is a living document and may continue to be updated over time)
On June 19, 2020, Ontario's Recovery Secretariat hosted a virtual town hall on COVID-19 safety and the reopening of Ontario's Courts. The town hall offered an overview of MAG's phased, gradual and responsive plan for court recovery, which aligns with the Framework for Reopening Our Province.
Here are materials from the town hall and information session:
On January 19th, the Accelerating Access to Justice Act, 2021 received Royal Assent
The Act makes the virtual witnessing of powers of attorney and wills permanent.
An additional consequential amendment to the Family Law Act, would clarify spouses’ rights to elect to seek or not to seek an equalization of net family property under the Family Law Act following the exclusion of separated married spouses from inheriting when there is no will.
Also, an amendment to the Succession Law Reform Act would grant courts the authority to validate wills that reflect testamentary wishes, but which were not made in complete compliance with the formality requirements for making a will.
The Bill can be found here.
Explanatory Note can be found here.
A Backgrounder can be found here.
Also as part of the government's Accelerating Access to Justice Act, changes were made to the Courts of Justice Act regarding the availability of civil juries. These amendments were previously proposed is earlier announcements.
* Accompanying docs for CCLA submission
In summary, the legislative amendments made to the above two acts now make it possible for the: commissioning of a document to be remote and virtual; and notarization of a document to be remote, virtual, and notarized by a paralegal.
These changes echo a similar directive issued by the Law Society of Ontario in March and are permanent as of May 12th, 2020.
READ FOLA'S SUBMISSION HERE (JUNE 2020)
On September 24, 2020, the Attorney General introduced Bill 207, the Moving Ontario Family Law Forward Act, 2020.
The bill aims to relieve stress, strain, and burden for Ontarians by providing more clarity for families involved in family law matters. These changes will allow parents and guardians to spend less time on paperwork and court appearances and more time caring for their children and focused on their future.
Among a raft of other things, the PC’s new 176-page omnibus Bill 197:
SMARTER & STRONGER JUSTICE ACT
On July 8, 2020, Bill 161, the Smarter and Stronger Justice Act 2019 received Royal Assent - a Bill that proposes over 20 Statutory and Regulatory changes.
FOLA had concerns with the changes to the Notaries Act and to the Commissioners for Taking Affidavits Act but due to COVID-19 and the passing of Bill 190, these concerns were expressed in meetings with MAG in relation to that Act (which superseded Bill 161 with respect to Notaries and Commissioning).
On October 1st, the following amendments will come into effect (having been passed as part of the Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, 2020, which received Royal Assent on July 8, 2020.
The amendments to the CPA will, subject to specified exceptions, only apply to class proceedings commenced on or after October 1, 2020.
The CPA, as amended, can be accessed at the following link: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/92c06
Regulations and Regulatory Amendments
The following new regulations and regulatory amendments have been made to support the amendments to the CPA:
On February 27, 2020, Attorney General Doug Downey announced that he plans to change appointment processes for the JAAC and the JPAAC.
MEDIA, FOLA & JAAC/JPAAC AMENDMENTS
February 28, 2020 article in the Globe & Mail quoting FOLA Chair Michael Winward expressing concerns over the amendments.
The Attorney General first started discussing possible amendments to judicial appointments at FOLA's November Plenary. Below are some relevant documents and media clippings.
PAST MEDIA COVERAGE
On January 1, 2020, important civil justice reforms came into effect. The reforms were introduced through:
Please also note that a regulation filed on October 23, 2019 amends the Rules of the Small Claims Court court forms relating to garnishment proceedings (O. Reg 345-19).
Amendments to the Courts of Justice Act and its regulations:
Amendments to a regulation under the Law Society Act relate to the Law Society Tribunal processes of the Hearing Division:
· For certain types of motions, eliminating the requirement for the same members who will hear the merits of the proceeding to also hear the motion.
· Allow a single member panel, rather than a three-member panel, to exclude the public and/or witnesses from all or part of a hearing.
O. Reg. 475/21 was filed on June 16, 2021 to permit provincial offences officers to serve Part III summonses on individuals within the province by registered mail, courier, or email. It also permits service on a recipient’s licensed lawyer or paralegal (if any), with advance consent.
Section 39 of the POA provides that these methods of service will also be available to any person serving a witness summons.
This change will permit new efficiencies going forward and will help minimize health risks associated with in-person contact during the pandemic. The regulation can be viewed online.
Proclamation of POA Clerk Amendments
Bill 177, the Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2017, and Bill 229, Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act (Budget Measures), 2020, introduced amendments to the POA aimed at modernizing and streamlining POA court processes.
Effective November 1, 2021, the following amendments will come into force:
• Clerks of the court will grant, but not deny, an extension of time to pay a fine. If the clerk is not satisfied that the application should be granted, the clerk must forward the application to a justice of the peace to make the determination whether to grant or deny the request for an extension.
• Clerks of the court will review the POA ticket and, if the ticket is not defective as determined by regulation, enter a conviction and impose a set fine where a defendant has failed to respond to the ticket and is deemed not to dispute. The Attorney General has made a regulation prescribing the characteristics that make a certificate of offence defective. The regulation can be viewed online.
(More details about these amendments are described in the appendix).
Updated POA Forms
The COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020, also amended the POA to further enable the enhanced use of remote appearances in POA proceedings.
Effective November 1, 2021, updated POA forms, including Offence Notices, Certificates of Offence, Part I Summons, Notice of Trial and Early Resolution Meeting Notices, will come into effect to reflect the availability of remote appearance methods for POA proceedings. In addition, Offence Notices will also advise the defendant that a clerk may enter a conviction against them, and that the defendant may apply to a justice for a review of their conviction.
Updated POA forms are posted on the Ontario Court Forms website.
POA Court Recovery
The Recovery Division and Court Services Division, acting on behalf of the Ministry of the Attorney General, continue to work closely with the Ontario Court of Justice (OCJ) on advancing virtual court appearances and the eventual resumption of in-person proceedings, when appropriate. The ministry continues to meet regularly with the OCJ, providing updates and guidance on POA recovery.
The collaborative partnership between justice partners and the ministry has been, and will continue to be, a fundamental principle of our success as we work together to build the most modern, efficient, and effective justice system attainable.
If you have any questions, or if you would like more information on these initiatives, please contact Ms. Wendy Chen, Manager of my ministry’s POA Unit, by telephone at (437) 244-8733 or by email at JUS.G.MAG.POASupport@ontario.ca.
On August 1, 2020, MAG passed a new regulation under the Commissioners for Taking Affidavits Act to set out the framework for commissioners who wish to exercise their powers without being in the physical presence of the deponent or declarant. That regulation is available here.
In response to stakeholder feedback and understanding that notarization is a more complicated process than commissioning, a remote notarization regulation was not introduced at that time. However, in late March/early April 2021 MAG sought input on proposals outlined in a Consultation Deck.
The Election Act and the Election Finances Act are amended. Among the changes:
1. The Chief Electoral Officer (“the CEO”) is to establish an advisory committee on voting equipment and vote counting equipment.
2. The powers of the CEO with respect to designating advance polls are expanded.
3. Independent members of the Assembly are allowed to endorse constituency associations.
4. The amounts of authorized contributions are increased.
5. The quarterly allowances to registered parties are continued until January 1, 2025. Their amounts are increased and adjustments are made to their timing.
6. Adjustments are made to the rules respecting collusion with third parties.
7. Administrative penalties for certain contraventions are provided for.
The Members’ Integrity Act, 1994 is amended to provide for social media accounts of members of the Assembly and multiple amendments are made to the Municipal Elections Act, 1996.
In late August, 2020, the Attorney General wrote to FOLA seeking our input and perspective on legislative potential changes to the mandatory mediation program and a single-judge model (building on the current One Judge Pilot Program) in the SCJ.
You can read the AG's letter (which outlines the possible changes) to FOL A here.
Ontario’s “Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, 2020” received Royal Assent on July 8, 2020. This Act includes amendments to the Estates Act. You can view the Act (along with explanatory notes) here.
The amendments to the Estates Act include the authority to establish a regulation to prescribe a small estates value. The amendments pertaining to small estates will come in to force on proclamation at a later date. This approach was taken to allow the Civil Rules Committee an opportunity to review the changes and consider any amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure and forms that may be required and, to allow for consultation with the estates bar on the value of small estates.
In August 2020, the Attorney General invited FOLA to provide written input on the appropriate defined value of “small estate” to be set out in regulation.
You can read our submission here.
And the TLA's submission here.
On August 1st, 2020, a new regulation was made under the Commissioners for Taking Affidavits Act to set out the framework for commissioners who wish to exercise their powers without being in the physical presence of the deponent or declarant. That regulation is available here.
In March, 2019. The Ministry requested written submissions on their consultation document .
Following consultation with our membership, FOLA presented the Ministry with our submission on April 15, 2019. You can read that submission in its entirety below.
FOLA also made a submission to MAG on June 12, 2020, which you can read here.
Lindsey Park, MPP and Parliamentary Assistant to the Attorney General, recently led review of Family and Civil Legislation, Regulations, and Processes. The government’s review explored ways to simplify family and civil court processes, reduce costs and delays, and encourage earlier resolution of disputes.
FOLA’s executive spent much of July 2019 attending various consultation sessions throughout the province and our Family Law Committee Chair, Valerie Brown, prepared our submission, sent to Ms. Park on July 30, 2019.
In March, 2019, FOLA presented our formal submission to the Ministry on their proposed amendments to the Juries Act.
In part, FOLA recommended that “No juror address information, but a party could bring a motion to access juror street address information if it is necessary to ensure trial fairness or is otherwise in the interests of justice.”
You can access our full submission below.
In Ontario, the law of defamation is a complex mix of common law rules and statutory provisions. Ontario’s Libel and Slander Act has not been updated to reflect the technological changes of the 21st century, and as a result, the law of defamation in Ontario may not address or reflect the complexities and challenges that technological advances have presented.
The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) has recently released its final report entitled Defamation Law in the Internet Age, which you can find online here. MAG sought input on recommendations from the LCO’s report over the summer of 2020.
MAG has filed two regulations to establish a small estate process in Ontario. (both effective April 1):
2. O. Reg. 111/21, made under the Courts of Justice Act amending the Rules of Civil Procedure (RCP) to establish a small estate process. The regulations are described in Ontario Regulatory Registry notices at: 21-MAG005 and 21-MAG006.
The RCP amendment regulation establishes a simplified probate process for estates valued at up to $150,000 as an alternative to the existing probate system.
New rule 74.1 allows for a court issued Small Estate Certificate with the equivalent legal effect to a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee, except that authority is limited to the estate assets specifically listed in the application. The rule specifies the requirements for applications for a Small Estate Certificate, including the requirements for filing, for notice to persons entitled to share in the estate and for applying to seek authority for estate assets that are discovered after the issuance of a Small Estate Certificate.
Please note: The small estates limit of $150,000 will apply for the purpose of determining eligibility to apply to the court for a Small Estate Certificate. It does not impact the Estate Administration Tax Act exemption limit of $50,000.
Additional information is available in ENGLISH
Amendments to the Solicitors Act in regards to contingency fees have been approved to come into force on July 1, 2021.
In addition, there is a new regulation on contingency fees, which you can find on elaws
The standard form agreement can be found on the Law Society website.
Following an EY Canada line-by-line review of Government Expenditures, the Ontario Government identified opportunities to move toward full cost recovery for court and transactional services.
After a public and stakeholder consultation period, the new fees were introduced in April 2019.
On March 26, 2019, Doug Downey, MPP (Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte) and then Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance (currently AG), filed his Private Member's Bill for first reading in the Legislature. Bill 88 proposed several changes to the Planning Act, which FOLA enthusiastically supported.
While the Bill died following Doug's appointment to AG, FOLA is hopeful that it will be reintroduced as a Government Bill in the near future.
Beginning January 1, 2020, the maximum claim filed in Small Claims Court will increase to $35,000. Currently, all claims over $25,000 must proceed in the Superior Court of Justice — one of the busiest courts in Canada — where litigation can take years and can involve expensive legal representation.
Remote Defence Access is now available in:
If you'd like to get started, contact the ministry's innovation office via the email below and you'll be provided with a legal agreement form to complete
The Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) has enhanced the civil claims online filing service (Ontario.ca/civilclaims) based on feedback from legal associations and users.
As of November 26, 2018, you can:
On December 4th, Ontario's Auditor General released a damning report highlighting the slow pace of modernization and how that is contributing to growing delays in Ontario courts and creating serious deficiencies in transparency.
Also problematic, was the fact that the Auditor General’s Office was blocked from fully examining the reasons for those delays.