WONDERING WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN VISITING A COURTHOUSE?
Get pre-screened here (requirement)
As you know, many of MAG services are considered essential in Ontario. For those continuing to attend MAG facilities, the ministry has put a suite of overlapping preventative measures in place within their facilities which include (but are not limited to): entrance screening, physical distancing, enhanced cleaning protocols, and appropriate masking (which could include wearing PPE where necessary).
The Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Office continues to assure the Recovery Secretariat that the measures and protocols in place within the courts are among the best in Ontario. They have also confirmed that, when properly adhered to, their measures are effective at mitigating the spread of all known COVID-19 variants.
It is therefore critical that you continue to diligently follow all of the protocols in place within MAG facilities. And, importantly, if you’re feeling sick – stay home.
Finally, you are reminded that the planning and distribution of vaccines in Ontario remains fluid and is expected to evolve over the coming weeks and months. For example, increased access to vaccines has recently been announced in some locations. To make sure you have the most up-to-date information about your vaccine eligibility, you are encouraged to monitor your local Public Health Unit for details about when and how to get a vaccine. Everyone is encouraged to access their vaccination at the earliest opportunity that is offered to them, by their local public health unit.
The government has released details of its Phase 2 COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan which will start on March 15, 2021. For those interested, you may wish to review the announcement and information on the population eligible for Phase 2 COVID-19 vaccination.
You are also encouraged to continue to monitor the Getting a COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario webpage and to connect with your local public health unit for details about when and how you, or your staff, could get a vaccine.
Also, the Ministry of Health (MOH) recently issued a document called COVID-19: Guidance for Prioritization of Phase 2 Populations for COVID-19 Vaccination which provides additional clarity that we wanted to share, to help you communicate with your staff/members, and make determinations for your own organizations. The document provides helpful information about roles and responsibilities, approach to sequencing of vaccine distribution, and the province’s ethical framework.
If you have any questions please email: MAGRecoverySecretariat@ontario.ca.
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:
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).
Contains a selection of online tools and resources to help get you through this epidemic.
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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.
On February 16, 2021, the Attorney General introduced Bill 245 - Accelerating Access to Justice Act, 2021.
According to the Ministry's website, the Bill, if passed, would:
· Help fill judicial vacancies faster so people will be able to have their matters heard by a judge more quickly and with fewer delays. These changes would maintain current legislated qualifications to become a judge, as announced in February 2020, and reflect feedback received from justice partners and lawyers. Changes will also support broader efforts to encourage more lawyers to apply by moving the applications process online.
· Permanently allow the virtual witnessing of wills and powers of attorney to make it easier for people to get these important affairs in order, without the limitations of travelling to access these services in-person.
· Promote the interests of children by giving them a greater voice in the court process, and better focus resources of the Office of the Children's Lawyer.
· Increase access to justice in French by expanding and guaranteeing the ability of Francophones to file documents in French at all Ontario courthouses and for all matters, including civil and family law.
The province is also proposing to consolidate Ontario's Land Tribunals by merging the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, Environmental Review Tribunal, Board of Negotiation, Conservation Review Board and the Mining and Lands Tribunal into a new single tribunal called the Ontario Land Tribunal. The new Ontario Land Tribunal would make the land dispute resolution process more efficient by creating a single forum to resolve disputes faster by eliminating unnecessary overlap between cases.
The Bill can be found here.
Explanatory Note can be found here.
A Backgrounder can be found 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.
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.
MAG is seeking input and perspective on a new regulation to be made pursuant to the Provincial Offences Act (POA), specifying additional ways to serve POA summonses. The proposed regulation would allow service by way of registered mail, courier, or email. It would also permit service on a recipient’s licensed lawyer or paralegal, where applicable. The full text of the proposed regulation is available on the Regulatory Registry here.
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):
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.
The RCP amendments are expected to reduce costs and simplify the process to apply for probate of small estates through:
- a new, simpler application form;
- the removal of certain requirements in the existing probate process (for example, it is not necessary to obtain a commissioned affidavit of service); and
- estate court user guidance on the process to apply for probate of a small estate.
The simplified rules in the RCP and the Estates Act amendments also allow for expeditious processing by court staff by:
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.
The Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee advises the Attorney General of Ontario on the appointment of Judges to the Ontario Court of Justice, and invites applications for two judicial positions in Toronto:
TORONTO (1) – family
TORONTO (1) – 75% family / 25% criminal
These appointments also involve travel within the regional boundaries and elsewhere in the province of Ontario, as assigned by the Regional Senior Justice and/or the Chief Justice.
The minimum requirement to apply to be a Judge in the Ontario Court of Justice is ten years completed membership as a barrister and solicitor at the Bar of one of the Provinces or Territories of Canada.
All candidates must apply by submitting an electronic copy of the current (September 2020) completed Judicial Candidate Information Form. Acknowledgement and other communication will be sent by email. Please ensure that a suitable email address is provided on your application.
If you wish to apply and need a current Judicial Candidate Information Form, or if you would like further information, please contact:
Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee
Tel: (416) 326-4060
NEW ONLINE APPLICATION PROCESS: All applications must be sent by email, as a PDF attachment, to JAAC.Application@ontario.ca. Please refer to the submission instructions. In the email subject line, please indicate the LOCATION of the judicial vacancy.
Applications must be on the current prescribed form and RECEIVED BY 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Applications received after this date WILL NOT be considered.
NOTE: Please specify which vacancy (law specialty) you are applying to.
The Judiciary of the Ontario Court of Justice should reflect the diversity of the population it serves. Applications from members of equality-seeking groups are encouraged.