Effective November 30, 2020, Tribunals Ontario has an updated Practice Direction on Hearing Formats. The Practice Direction outlines Tribunals Ontario’s approach to determining the format of the hearing that will be held, and how a party can request a different hearing format.
The updated Practice Direction is part of Tribunals Ontario’s digital transformation to enhance the quality of dispute resolution services while meeting the diverse needs of Ontarians. The digital-first approach will continue even when the pandemic is over.
“Our approach to digital first is to create more convenient, accessible and timely access to justice but it’s not digital only. We are ensuring people who need a different hearing format are supported when they need it.” said Sean Weir, Executive Chair at Tribunals Ontario.
Matters will be scheduled for video, telephone or written proceedings unless a different format is required as an accommodation for an Ontario Human Rights Code-related need, or unless a party can establish that the specified hearing format will result in an unfair hearing.
All Tribunals Ontario’s hearing centres are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, a party can contact the tribunal to make a request for an in-person proceeding. The tribunal will determine whether the matter will proceed in a different hearing format or whether it will proceed as an in-person proceeding. Tribunals Ontario will schedule limited in-person events when we are able to do so safely.
When in-person proceedings are available, Tribunals Ontario’s hearing centres will adhere to strict health and safety measures to protect staff, adjudicators and Ontarians. More details about safety protocols at hearing centres will be provided later this winter.
Tribunals Ontario is committed to providing fair, effective and timely dispute resolution services to the people of Ontario.