A new, and very welcome, procedure has been implemented at the
Toronto Superior Court for civil proceedings (regular stream).
Parties may now request a chambers appointment with a Superior
Court Judge to address unopposed or consent matters such as
timetable amendments and scheduling requests, as well as short
uncontested matters that do not require evidence.
These chambers appointments will save considerable time and
effort for counsel, and more importantly, will reduce legal
expenses for parties. Those accustomed to litigating matters on the
Commercial List are familiar with the utility of the "9:30
case conferences" available for such matters, and how they can
be used effectively to expedite proceedings.
Although the new procedure has already been implemented and
chambers appointments are currently available, no Practice
Direction has been issued by the Toronto Court as yet. However,
Court staff are very helpful in providing guidance to counsel. This
new process will require lawyers to exercise good judgment to
identify issues that are appropriate for chambers appointments and
those that are not appropriate. An example of an issue suitable for
a chambers appointment would be the implementation of a new
Timetable in accordance with Rule 48. It would likely not be
appropriate to seek a chambers appointment for a contested issue in
an Action involving a self-represented party. As above, those
familiar with Commercial List or Estates List proceedings will be
familiar with the types of issues that the Court is prepared to
deal with in chambers.
The chambers appointments for civil proceedings (regular stream)
are held before a Judge, for a brief period of time (in or about 15
minutes), at a date and time that is fixed by the Court staff. To
obtain a chambers appointment, counsel are to complete and submit
one of three different forms, which are currently available on the
Toronto Lawyers' Association website. The forms are titled
"Short Trials", "Long Trials" and
"Motions". Court staff have advised that, in selecting
the appropriate form to submit, counsel ought to consider the
likely length of the Trial for the specific proceeding. If the
matter is likely destined for a Trial of 10 days or less, counsel
ought to submit the form for matters on the "Short Trial"
list. If the Trial for the proceeding will likely take more than 10
days, counsel ought to submit the form for "Long Trials".
It does not matter if the matter has not been set down for Trial.
Counsel are to make a reasonable estimate as to the likely length
of the Trial when choosing the appropriate form. If the chambers
appointment concerns a matter where a Motion is pending,
particularly a Summary Judgment Motion, the "Motions"
form ought to be submitted. The form is to be submitted to the
Court via email and the address for each of the three different
forms appears on its face.
Please keep in mind whether a case management Judge has been
assigned when completing the Form, as is becoming more commonplace
for regular stream civil proceedings. If a case management Judge
has been assigned to the proceeding, the chambers appointment will
take place with the assigned Judge. Otherwise, the chambers
appointment will likely take place with one of the Superior Court
Judges currently administering each respective list.
After the form has been submitted, counsel will likely receive a
responding email from Court staff identifying the date, time and
place for the chambers appointment. The majority of the chambers
appointments are taking place at the Superior Court of Justice
located 393 University Avenue on the 8th floor at 9:00 a.m.
As with all new procedures, it will take some time for the
Courts and counsel to iron out the details. However, the chambers
appointments are a well-received change that will provide a
streamlined process to allow parties to move proceedings forward in
a more timely and cost-efficient manner.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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