Effective January 1, 2021, the Ministry of the Attorney General announced changes to the Rules of Civil Procedure that would come into effect on January 1, 2021. Among the many changes, listed here, three changes that have been brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic show Ontario’s legal system is accepting modern technology in ways that can save clients’ money.
Video conferences are the future and the present
Virtual hearings will be the norm for any hearing that does not need to be conduct in-person. The Rules will impose cost consequences on parties that object to a virtual hearing without good reason. Conducting hearings by video and telephone will eliminate travel time to court and could reduce the time spent waiting to be called to speak to a matter when in court. Subrule 57.01 concerning costs will be amended so that the court considers whether a party unreasonable objects to proceeding by telephone or video conference.
Instantaneous service by email, not just by fax
Non-originating documents can now be served by email. Parties will no longer need to get the receiving party’s consent to service by email. This change will save clients’ money as documents will not have to be printed and bound then couriered. Subclause 16.01(4) and 16.05(1)(f) have been amended to permit a part to serve documents by email without the need for the parties’ consent or a court order.
Virtual commissioning will be accepted
The Rules now recognize virtual commissioning of affidavits. Lawyers will no longer have to travel to witnesses or arrange for witnesses to visit the lawyer’s office to have an affidavit commissioned. Subclause 4.06(1)(e) is amended by striking out “before a person authorized to administer oaths or affirmations” and substituting it with “in accordance with the Commissioners for Taking Affidavits Act”.