Toronto Court Back In-Person – A Slow Return to Normal?
In an update released today, the Toronto Superior Court of Justice has announced a significant development that in-person attendances will resume effective November 29, 2021 for Settlement Conferences, Trial Management Conferences (with a settlement component), Trials, Long Motions, Hague Hearings, and Appeals to occur in person, unless otherwise ordered by the court. All other attendances are to remain via Zoom.
The court also stated that alternative arrangements for hybrid appearances can be explored when requested at a case/settlement/trial conference or status hearing prior to the applicable attendance.
This development marks a major shift in the Ontario courts return back to the pre-pandemic world. We have been operating 100% virtually for over a year now and there has been no shortage of pros and cons for this shift.
Our firm has noticed that lawyers and clients have become much more efficient with their time while operating virtually. The courts can hear more matters and lawyers can attend to more as well. Long are the days of waiting for hours in a busy courthouse to hear your 10 minute matter. Clients no longer have to take an entire day off from work to see a judge. And lawyers can keep their fees lower as they no longer need to commute to the courthouse.
But is all of this going to change? Are we now returning to the pre-pandemic era of inefficiencies and hours of waiting for court appearances? Not yet, but this new practice direction indicates we may slowly be returning to this.
Time will tell if the rest of the provinces courts will follow and if the matters to be heard in person will expand to Case Conferences and the like.
What are your thoughts on the return to court in person for family law matters?