WONDERING WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN VISITING A COURTHOUSE?
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MAG GUIDEBOOK-PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES FOR REOPENING COURTS;
(the Guidebook is a living document and may continue to be updated over time)
Recording of the November 18, 2020 CaseLines Information Session (1 hour): https://vimeo.com/480936668
On June 19, 2020, Ontario's Recovery Secretariat hosted a virtual town halls 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:
During this time of emergency, the OBA, the Advocates’ Society, the OTLA, the CDL, and FOLA have come together (under the leadership of the OTLA) in an attempt to prioritize judicial resources available for civil matters. You can view our submission to assist the judiciary here.
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Contains a selection of online tools and resources to help get you through this epidemic.
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On December 8, 2020, Court Services filed a regulation to amend the Rules of Civil Procedure, O. Reg. 711-20. The regulation makes administrative amendments to align the Rules of Civil Procedure with legislative amendments that were introduced to remove the office of a traditional master. The amendments were made to the Courts of Justice Act through the Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, 2020, Schedule 5. The rule amendments and legislative amendments come into force on January 8, 2021. In addition, the regulation makes administrative amendments relating to the new rule for the CaseLines document sharing platform by clarifying the requirements for the naming of a document which is to be submitted (amends rule 4.05.3(6)2). These amendments come into force on January 1, 2021. A summary of the regulation is available on Ontario’s Regulatory Registry at: 20-MAG013.
The Ontario government, in collaboration with the Ontario Court of Justice and policing partners, is launching a new eIntake digital platform that will accelerate and simplify the way criminal charges are filed and managed (Nov 6).
NOTE: Limitation and procedural time periods have resumed running.
On Oct 6, MAG issued some new documents about applications regarding the resumption of Limitation Periods and are seeking a declaration that the suspension period (i.e. March 16-September 14) shall not be counted towards any applicable limitation period. These include: The Order of Justice Myers (October 6, 2020); a Factum of the AG; and the Application Record for the AG.
*you will need a ONe-Key account
There are three emergency orders made by the Ministry of the Attorney General that should be brought to your attention to: O. Reg. 73/20 – Limitation Periods; O. Reg. 76/20 – Electronic Service; and O. Reg. 129/20 – Signatures in Wills and Powers of Attorney.
COVID-19 MODELLING REPORT * April 3 *
On May 8th, 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.
On April 7, 2020, the LG in Council made an order under s. 7.0.2(4), of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act permitting virtual witnessing for wills and powers of attorney provided that at least one person who is providing the service as a witness is a licensee pursuant to the Law Society Act. READ MORE
LEGAL COUNSEL 3-WAY CALL DETECT ACCEPTANCE (UPDATE - April 10)
SERVING DOCUMENTS - UPDATE: Effective immediately, documents to be served on the Crown and related entities in any civil (non-criminal) proceeding, administrative proceeding or intended proceeding must be served by email, in accordance with the instructions here
Ontario's Attorney General is considering making amendments to the Courts of Justice Act regarding the availability of civil juries.
* Accompanying docs for CCLA submission
Currently, section 108 of the Courts of Justice Act permits a jury of six persons to assess damages and/or decide issues of fact in civil actions, except where prohibited by statute. Certain other statutes provide a judge with authority to direct that an action be brought, or an issue be tried, with a jury in a trial under the act, or set out the responsibilities of the jury where a jury trial is held under the act. (See Appendix A for further details.)
The AG is considering an amendment to the Courts of Justice Act to eliminate some or all civil jury trials. To that end, Minster Downey is seeking your views on the following related questions:
1. Should civil juries be eliminated altogether? or
2. If civil jury trials were to be eliminated, are there certain action types that should be exempt?
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)
OTHER ACTS AFFECTED
Alternative Filing Methods for Business Act, 2020
Business Corporations Act
Business Names Act
Commissioners for Taking Affidavits Act
Condominium Act, 1998
Co-operative Corporations Act
Corporations Information Act
Extra-Provincial Corporations Act
Limited Partnerships Act
Métis Nation of Ontario Secretariat Act, 2015
Not-for-Profit Corporations Act, 2010
Succession Law Reform Act
On September 24, 2020, the Attorney General introduced Bill 207, the Moving Ontario Family Law Forward Act, 2020.
If passed, 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.
The legislative changes would:
• allow parents and caregivers to request certified copies of child support notices made by the online child support service, so child support amounts can be more easily and affordably managed or enforced outside the province;
• make the family law appeals process clearer and easier to navigate; and
• align Ontario’s family laws with federal changes, so they are clearer and more streamlined.
In addition to these legislative amendments, the Ministry of the Attorney General is removing the requirement for family law arbitrators to file family arbitration award reports with the ministry, saving time and money and aligning Ontario with every other province.
MAG is also working with the courts to expand the Dispute Resolution Officer program to Kitchener and Welland.
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 will come 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 will:
· Increase the maximum amount of a claim in Small Claims Court from $25,000 to $35,000.
· Increase the minimum amount of a claim that may be appealed to the Divisional Court from $2,500 to $3,500.
Expand access to the Simplified Procedure in civil court to simplify complex processes and reduce the legal costs associated with cases involving modest values.
· Beginning January 1, 2020, people and businesses with civil court claims up to $200,000 will be able to use the Simplified Procedure process, up from the previous claim amount of $100,000.
· Changes will make it easier, faster and more affordable to resolve issues by limiting trials to five days, requiring parties to agree on a trial management plan and removing the option of a civil jury trial unless a jury notice has previously been filed.
Improve efficiency in the Divisional Court by clarifying court document filing requirements.
· Limit factums (documents) on motions for leave to appeal to facts, issues, statements of law, and authorities that are relevant to a ground on which leave to appeal may be granted.
· Limit motion records to documents which are referred to in the party’s factum and which are relevant to a ground on which leave to appeal may be granted.
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.
The changes are summarized on the Ontario Regulatory Registry at:
Amendments relating to materials filed in motions for leave to appeal to the Divisional Court pursuant to rule 62.02.
Amendments relating to the electronic filing and electronic issuance of documents in civil actions in the Superior Court of Justice.
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.
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 proposes several changes to the Planning Act, which FOLA is enthusiastically supporting.
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.