Canada: Significant Amendments To The Rules Of The Supreme Court Of Canada

On January 1, 2017, the Rules Amending the Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada, SOR/2016-271 (the "Amendments") and the Guidelines for Preparing Documents to be Filed with the Supreme Court of Canada (Print and Electronic) (the "Guidelines") came into force. The Amendments and Guidelines will apply to all cases as of January 1, 2017.

The Amendments and Guidelines include a number of substantial changes. Some of the key changes are new deadlines for serving and filing appeal documents, a new process for providing notice when an appeal raises a constitutional issue, new rules for electronic service, new requirements for factums and books of authorities, a significant reduction in the number of copies required for parts of the record and new technical requirements for document preparation. The Amendments and Guidelines include, but are not limited to, the following changes:

(1) New deadlines for serving and filing appeal documents

The deadline for filing an appellant's factum was reduced from twelve to eight weeks (R. 35(1)). In all cases, the new deadline runs from the date the notice of appeal was filed. The deadline for filing an intervener's factum was reduced from eight to six weeks (R. 37).

(2) Notice where an appeal raises a constitutional issue

When an appeal raises a constitutional issue, the parties must follow the new procedures set out in Rules 25 and 33 instead of bringing a motion to state a constructional question after leave is granted. For appeals by leave, constitutional issues are to be identified and formulated in the application for leave to appeal (R. 25(1)(c)(ii)). For appeals as of right, the appellant or respondent must give notice of a constitutional issue by filing Form 33B "Notice of a Constitutional Question" (R. 33(2)). Form 33B has been amended to reflect that the parties assert that the appeal raises a constitutional issue as opposed to an order of the Court.

(3) Electronic service

All documents, except for originating documents, can now be served by e-mail without prior consent (R. 20(1)(d.1)). A party served with an electronic copy of a document that must be bound (i.e. a factum) may request a printed version in which case the printed version must be delivered no later than one week after receiving the request (R. 20(2)).

(4) Changes to the factum and book of authorities

Part VI of the factum, i.e. a table alphabetically listing all authorities replied upon, must now include hyperlinks to the electronic version of all cases and statutes where available electronically (R. 42(2.1)). Further, the books of authorities is now only required to include authorities that were not available electronically (R. 44).

(5) Reduction in the number of copies of documents to be filed

The amendments also significantly reduced the number of print copies required for certain appeal documents. In particular, the appellant must file 20 copies of Part I of the appellant's record (no change) and 2 copies of Parts II to V (Part II reduced from 20 copies; Parts III to V reduced from 11 copies) (R. 35). The respondent must file 2 copies of the respondent's record (reduced from 11 copies) (R. 36). Moreover, the parties must file 2 copies of the book of authorities (reduced from 11 copies) (RR. 35(1)(b)(iv) and 36(2)(iii)). The Guidelines include a chart titled "Specific Requirements for Documents" which summarizes the filing requirements for all appeal documents.

(6) Technical requirements for document preparation

It is important to consult the Guidelines for documents filed after January 1, 2017. The Guidelines include several technical changes for document preparation, for example:

  • Footnotes: footnotes must be in 12-point font and footnotes containing an explanation or a comment must be one and one half lines apart instead of single spaced.
  • Filing of electronic appeal and application for leave to appeal documents: printed and electronic versions must be filed by the deadline set out in the Rules, even if they are filed separately.

The Supreme Court's "Guide to the 2017 Amendments to the Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada" which provides a plain language explanation of the changes in the Amendments and Guidelines can be found here.

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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