Guide to Videoconferencing Proceedings
Last Updated: October 21, 2022
October 21, 2022: Tribunals Ontario has created new video guides to help you participate in your proceeding. Watch them below or on the Tribunals Ontario Youtube channel.
This page provides information to help you prepare for a virtual proceeding on Zoom, such as a hearing, mediation, or case conference, at one of Tribunals Ontario’s boards or tribunals.
On This Page
- Preparing for a Videoconference Proceeding
- What to do if You Can’t Connect to Your Proceeding
- Other Important Information
Zoom User Guide
Note: If you received a guide with your notice or email invitation that includes instructions specific to your proceeding, please refer to that guide instead.
Tips for Connecting to your Zoom Proceeding
Tribunals Ontario Video Zoom Guides
How to Join a Virtual Proceeding
Watch this video to learn how to join a virtual proceeding. Clicking on the video below will redirect you to YouTube. You can also watch it on the Tribunals Ontario website.
Basic Zoom Controls in Virtual Proceeding
Watch this video to learn how to use the microphone, camera, rename yourself, and raise your hand. Clicking on the video below will redirect you to YouTube. You can also watch it on the Tribunals Ontario website.
Additional Zoom Controls in Virtual Proceeding
Watch this video to learn how to screen share, change video panel layout, use breakout rooms, and chat. Clicking on the video below will redirect you to YouTube. You can also watch it on the Tribunals Ontario website.
Preparing for a Videoconference Proceeding
Before the Day of Your Proceeding
- Check the letter or email (notice) that you received from your tribunal (for example, Notice of Hearing, Notice of Mediation, Notice of Case Conference) for the time and date of your proceeding. It will include a Zoom link to join the videoconference. Keep the notice handy so you can access this information on the day of your proceeding.
- Make sure you have access to a computer or Smartphone with a camera and microphone. If you have access to a computer, it may provide a more stable connection and video viewing experience versus a Smartphone. Headphones are recommended for better sound quality. You can also join the proceeding by telephone.
- Download and install the Zoom app on your computer or Smartphone if you don’t already have it. You can also use Zoom in your web browser as another option to connect. For more information on how to join by Zoom app or web browser, please watch the video guide How to Join a Virtual Proceeding.
- Check that your computer or Smartphone is working properly:
- Check your internet speed. If you have a slow connection, it may be helpful to use a hard-wired internet connection through an ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi. For more information on how to check your internet speed/bandwidth, review the Tips for Connecting to your Zoom Proceeding.
- Test your microphone to make sure others can hear you. Test your speaker(s) and headphones to make sure you can hear during the proceeding.
- Conduct a Zoom test by joining a test meeting on the Zoom website.
- Familiarize yourself with the Zoom features you may use during your proceeding. For example, make sure you know how to raise your hand, mute and unmute, rename yourself, and share your screen or a document. For more information on how to use these features, watch Basic Zoom Controls in Virtual Proceeding and Additional Zoom Controls in Virtual Proceeding.
On the Day of Your Proceeding
- Find a private space with minimal background noise. Turn off telephone ringers, email alerts and anything else that could cause a distraction.
- Optimize Zoom’s performance by closing all other applications and programs on your computer or phone.
- Position your camera at eye level so that your face is visible. Where possible, position yourself so the light is shining in front of you, rather than from behind you, which can make you appear in shadow. For example, you don’t want your camera facing a window.
- If possible, connect to Zoom early so you can address any technical issues and be on time for your hearing. Some tribunals may ask you to join by a specific time. Check your notice or email invitation.
- Once you have connected to Zoom, you will be placed in the lobby/waiting room. You may be waiting there for a few minutes until you are let into the hearing. This is normal - do not disconnect.
- If joining from a phone or computer that has video, ensure your video is turned on. To minimize background noise, mute your microphone when you are not speaking.
What to do if You Can’t Connect to Your Proceeding
If you are unable to join by videoconference or if you are disconnected and cannot immediately reconnect:
- Contact the tribunal immediately, and:
- Try to join by phone if you cannot rejoin by videoconference. The notice from your tribunal will have the phone number to dial-in and any other information you need to join the proceeding by phone. In some cases, if a party is not able to rejoin, the adjudicator may adjourn the proceeding if they determine it cannot proceed fairly.
Joining Your Hearing by Phone
You can join a Zoom videoconference by phone. You will not be able to see the other participants and they will not be able to see you, but you will be able to hear each other.
The toll-free phone number to call and the meeting ID code are in your notice or email invitation. You will be asked to enter the meeting ID, followed by the pound/hashtag sign (#). If the hearing has not started and the host has not yet joined, press # to wait for the host.
Once you are let into the hearing room, you will be connected to the hearing. You will be on mute. You will be asked for your name. It will be entered into Zoom so that those participating in Zoom can see that you are there and know who is speaking.
To mute and unmute yourself, press *6. To signal that you wish to speak, press *9. This will show that you have raised your hand. Lower your hand by also pressing *9.
Other Important Information
What is Expected of Parties and Participants?
The same formal etiquette and protocol of in-person proceedings is expected in a videoconference. This means:
- At the start of the proceeding, you should identify any other persons present at your location. You must let the tribunal or board know if anyone joins you after this time. Depending on the circumstances, the tribunal may require those other persons to leave the room during the proceeding.
- During the proceeding, you may be asked to turn your video on.
- You should stay on mute unless you are:
- Making an argument or submission
- Questioning a witness
- Giving testimony
- You are expected to be courteous and respectful of the proceeding and all participants.
Rules for Witnesses
Parties are responsible for providing the Zoom link to their witnesses (if applicable) and informing them that they must join Zoom at the required time to give their evidence.
To protect the integrity of the proceeding, rules for witnesses include:
- Witnesses are not permitted to testify with others present, without prior approval of the tribunal. The tribunal may direct the witnesses to be alone when giving testimony.
- Witnesses should have all documents before them that are required when giving their testimony.
- Witnesses cannot be assisted by others during their testimony.
Requesting an Accommodation
Accommodations are arrangements that allow everyone to participate fully in the tribunal process, regardless of their abilities. You can request an accommodation by submitting an Accommodation Request Form. For more information, review Tribunals Ontario’s website on requesting an accommodation.
Public Attendance at a Virtual Proceeding
If you want to observe a public proceeding on Zoom, please reach out to the respective tribunal to get instructions. Not all tribunal proceedings are open to the public.
Observers of a proceeding are expected to cooperate with the instructions of the tribunal and to be courteous and respectful of the proceeding and all participants. You may be asked to state your name and the purpose for attending the proceeding. To minimize disruptions, you should remain on mute throughout the proceeding.
It is an offence to record a tribunal proceeding unless an exception applies. Learn more about this rule in the Statutory Powers Procedure Act.