Electronic Updates at the Superior Court of Justice
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice (“SCJ”) released a consolidated Notice to the Profession, Parties, Public and Media on August 2, 2022. At first glance, the updates appear to mirror many of the procedures already in existence at the Ontario Court of Appeal and deal with the proper format and procedure for submitting electronic documents to the Court. This is a helpful and timely guide as many of these changes came about during the height of the pandemic. In taking the important step of clarifying what the Court requires from parties appearing before it, this Notice to the Profession, Parties, Public and Media should be carefully reviewed.
Effective August 2, 2022, the Superior Court of Justice (“SCJ”) has released a Notice to the Profession, Parties, Public and the Media. These changes consolidate and supersede all previous Province-wide Provincial Notices.
There are some noteworthy changes that may impact your electronic submissions to the Court.
Document naming protocol
As a helpful reminder, when documents are submitted to the court in electronic format, the document name must be saved as follows:
- Document type (including the form number in family cases),
- Type of party submitting the document,
- Name of the party submitting the document (including initials if the name is not unique to the case), and
- Date on which the document was created or signed, in the format DD-MMM-YYYY (e.g. 12-JAN-2021).
For example, documents should be saved as follows:
- Expert Report – Defendant – Loblaws Inc. – 13-MAR-2021
- Financial Statement Form 13.1 – Respondent – A. Wong – 21-NOV-2021
- 11b Application – Defence – Nathanson – 12-JAN-2021
Document names shall not include firm-specific naming conventions, abbreviations, or file numbers. Form numbers are only to be included in the names of documents submitted in family cases.
Electronic filing of Material for Court
For Civil and Family matters, the Court expects counsel and parties to issue and file their documents electronically by using the Ministry’s Justice Services Online (JSO) platform. The same applies for fees. These submissions must be done through the appropriate Civil online filing portals.
Filing at the court office does remain available for parties unable to file documents electronically or for documents that must be filed urgently. The Court will also accept limited e-mail filings on the following matters:
- Urgent matters, including requests for an urgent hearing
- Documents that must be filed for a deadline that is no more than five business days away.
Unless the court directs otherwise, where materials are delivered by email, they must:
- Retain any documents that were originally signed, certified or commissioned in paper format until the day on which the case is finally disposed of or, if no notice of appeal is served in the case, the time for serving the notice has expired, subject to any requirement in the Family Law Rules to give the document to the clerk before that day; and
- Promptly make the original document available for inspection and copying on the request of the court or of any party to the case.
Any questions on electronic filing can be directed towards the Ministry’s Contact Centre which can provide assistance with the Justice Services Online portal.
JSO Contact Centre information:
- Telephone: 1-800-980-4962
- Email: CivilClaimsOnline@ontario.ca (Civil)
- Email: FamilyClaimsOnline@ontario.ca (Family)
Uploading materials for Court: CaseLines
CaseLines is now being used for many Superior Court of Justice events. When in use, after materials have been accepted for filing by the court, parties shall upload electronic copies of their documents into CaseLines for review by all participants before and during a court hearing.
If you have received an email from CaseLines inviting you to a case, click the link provided and upload the documents you will rely on for your hearing. These documents must be uploaded at least 5 days in advance of the hearing, or at the same time as any filing deadlines that are less than 5 days as set out by a rule of court or a Regional Notice.
To facilitate the effective use of CaseLines, the Court reminds counsel and self-represented parties of the following:
- Include your current email addresses on all documents that are filed with the court.
- Make CaseLines a trusted sender by saving com in your contacts list, or regularly check your junk folder for emails from CaseLines.
- Upon receipt of an email from CaseLines, click the link for one-time registration or register in advance.
- Abide by the page limits set out in the rules of court, practice directions and Notices to the Profession. Documents exceeding 500 pages should be split into multiple documents.
- After your documents have been accepted for filing by the court office, upload them into the sub-bundle created for the hearing (e.g. Motion sub-bundle, Pre-trial sub-bundle, Trial sub-bundle) at least 5 days in advance of the hearing, or as soon as possible for any filing dead-lines that are less than 5 days, unless directed otherwise by Regional Notice. Do not upload documents into the Master Bundle.
- Use the Court’s Standard Document Naming Protocol when submitting documents to the court in electronic format. Documents are organized in each sub-bundle numerically, so you can control the order in which your documents appear by adding a number at the beginning of the file name (i.e. 1 Factum – Respondent Smith – 01-JAN-2021).
- Upload affidavits of service to CaseLines in all family cases. In civil cases, only if service is contested or proof of service is necessary for determining the motion.
- Do Not Upload Sealed Documents. Unredacted versions of documents that are of, are proposed to be, the subject of a sealing order should NOT be uploaded into CaseLines.
- In motions for removal as lawyer of record under rule 15.04(1.2) and (1.3) of the Rules of Civil Procedure, unredacted motion materials should not be uploaded into CaseLines.
- It is counsel’s obligation to upload Exhibits into CaseLines. These documents should be uploaded separately, as the Registar can only add one electronic exhibit stamp per document.
- Prior to each hearing, upload into the hearing sub-bundle a completed Participant Information Form.
- Parties must ensure that all previous orders and endorsements in a case that are relevant at the hearing have been uploaded into the Orders and Endorsements sub-bundle in CaseLines so they can be accessed by the judiciary at future hearings.
- Parties must also ensure that all pleadings have been uploaded into the Pleadings bundle in CaseLines.
- Parties should identify any documents that have been improperly uploaded by opposing parties by making a note in CaseLines specifying the document(s) and why it/they should not have been uploaded.
In a recent application, Attorney General of Ontario v. Contents of TD Bank Account #1175-6485516, 2021 ONSC 6386, the court had to reschedule a one-day hearing after improper use of CaseLines led to unserviceable delays in the proceeding. In that case, the Application Record uploaded by the AG to CaseLines totaled 112,998 pages. Of this, 110,436 pages of material were incapable of being used in the hearing in their current form. The court went on to conclude that “Materials uploaded as exhibits must be identified accordingly in the CaseLines folder. The uploading of inadequately described and unorganized material meant that the documents could not be accessed in any efficient manner.”
Access and Use of CaseLines in Criminal
In criminal matters, CaseLines access will be limited to the judiciary, court staff, lawyers and their necessary Crown and defense staff requiring access.
Counsel are prohibited from inviting their clients/accused persons to access CaseLines. Counsel are also required to make other arrangements to share documents, as appropriate, with their clients.
No Criminal matters involving self-represented persons will use CaseLines.
There are also a number of items that should not be uploaded onto CaseLines in Criminal:
- No materials related to child pornography.
- No document referring to a confidential informant.
- Unless specifically directed by the court to do otherwise, Crown and defence counsel will not upload the following documents into CaseLines:
- A sealed document
- A document for which a sealing order is sought
- A privileged document, or a document where privilege is being asserted
- Any other document where counsel have concerns, until judicial direction is given. If counsel have concerns about uploading any specific item, they should seek the direction of the Court at a judicial pretrial. Counsel should ensure that this direction is placed on the record at the subsequent court appearance to be endorsed on the indictment or other written record by the Registrar.
Providing Accurate Estimates of Required Hearing Time
As inaccurate estimates for the time required for hearings may result in a case being adjourned and rescheduled for a realistic time estimate with no expedition of the rescheduling, parties are reminded that they must give careful consideration to what is to be covered in the hearing time, the pace at which documents and authorities can be reasonably reviewed, and the time needed for oral arguments on the issues raised.
In accordance with rule 4.05.3(3) of the Rules of Civil Procedure, each party must upload to CaseLines a compendium containing key materials that will be referred to in oral argument. The compendium must only include those material that will be referred to in argument and must have a table of contents hyperlinked to the sections within it and hyperlinks to authorities cited.
Bring attention to material uploaded into CaseLines
Materials that are not brought to the attention of the judicial officer at the hearing may not be considered. Parties must therefore bring to the attention of the court, all relevant material facts and the authorities that establish the legal proposition relied upon.
Books of Authorities and Facta
No book of authorities containing the full text of all authorities to be relied on shall be filed with the court in paper or electronic format, unless the court orders otherwise.
Each party’s factum shall hyperlink authorities to a publicly available, free website such as CanLII, whenever they are available.
The factum must include paragraph references each time a case is cited in the factum, with the applicable paragraph also hyperlinked.
If an authority is not available on a free website, it shall be included in an abbreviated book of authorities and filed electronically in PDF format. This abbreviated book of authorities shall include a table of contents that has internal hyperlinks to the cases and textbook excepts included within it.
Email Processes for Estate Certificates (Probate)
Where email is used to file documents in probate application, the following requirements must be met:
- Applicants must complete an Information Form and email it to the court together with the probate application. The application form and supporting documents (affidavits, consents, proof of death, renunciations, draft certificates, motions) should be submitted by email only.
- The subject line of the email sent to the court must indicate the acronym for the court, the area of law, court file number (if any), and type of document, as set out in the examples below:
- SCJ – ESTATES – ES-1234567 – Application for Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee
- SCJ – ESTATES – new file – Application for Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee
- Each email sent to the court, including attachments, must not exceed 35 MB.
- Document attachments must be in PDF format.
- Each PDF attachment must contain only one court form and must be saved with the name that specifies the court form number and type of document (e.g. Form 74.10 Affidavit of Condition of Will)
- Original documents filed in support of the application (e.g. wills, codicils, bonds, ancillary certificates) and certified copies must be filed in hard copy by mail or courier to the Superior Court of Justice location where the application was filed or provided at the court office.
- Estate administration tax payments must also be sent by mail or courier to the court office or provided at the court office.
- Probate certificates will be electronically issued and delivered by email to the address provided by the applicant.
The above process for emailing documents to the court does not apply to documents filed in estate litigation cases. Estate litigation documents should continue to be filed through the Civil online filing portals.
 Attorney General of Ontario v. Contents of TD Bank Account #1175-6485516, 2021 ONSC 6386 at para. 14.