Covid-19 influences changes to the Rules of Civil Procedures:
As the Covid-19 pandemic extends into the new year, the justice system continues to adapt to these particularly challenging times. As of January 1, 2021, the Rules of Civil Procedures have been amended to modernize Ontario’s justice system and allow for among other things: video hearings, electronic signatures and more.
The first major amendment is to the method of attendance of a hearing. A party will now be able to specify how they wish to attend the hearing. This can be either: in person, by telephone conference or by video conference. If there is an objection to the format selected, the objection will be determined at a case conference. This rule will not apply to proceedings before the Court of Appeal, however, it will apply to mandatory mediations and examinations for discovery.
Additionally, the Rules were amended to allow for service (other than originating documents) by e-mail without the need for the consent of the other parties or the court. Further, several Rules will remove the mention of service by “fax” and lawyers will no longer be required to include a fax number on documents.
Finally, many of the rules have been amended to accommodate electronic signatures. For example, documents that must be signed by the court, a registrar, a judge or an officer may now be signed via electronic signature.
Despite the difficulty that Covid-19 has caused to the justice system, many of these changes are long overdue. These changes will finally bring Ontario’s justice system in the modern era and allow more efficient and technologically advanced practices to be used.
For the full list of amendments see: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/r20689