January 25th, 2021, the Court of Appeal for Ontario posted a new COVID-related practice direction.

This practice direction is titled “Practice Direction Concerning Public and Media Remote Observation of Oral Hearings During the COVID-19 Pandemic”. The English version of the practice direction can be found here https://www.ontariocourts.ca/coa/en/notices/covid-19/practice-direction-observer-access.pdf ; the French version can be found here  https://www.ontariocourts.ca/coa/fr/notices/covid-19/practice-direction-observer-access.pdf .

The practice direction explains that, unless there is a legal provision or a court order that requires a hearing to be held in camera, members of the public and the media may observe hearings remotely by connecting to the hearing by Zoom or by telephone. The practice direction also explains that those who wish to observe a hearing, so long as it is not in camera, may obtain the Zoom connection information from the parties or their counsel or from the Office of the Registrar.

Finally, the practice direction explains that the Court of Appeal has revised and renamed its counsel slip. It is now called “Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form”. The English version of the Counsel Slip and Hearing Information Form can be found here https://www.ontariocourts.ca/coa/en/notices/covid-19/ochome.htm ; the French version can be found here . https://www.ontariocourts.ca/coa/fr/notices/covid-19/ochome.htm.  This new form asks questions about privacy and publication concerns. It will be required in single judge motions filed on or after Feb. 1, 2021. It will be required in panel motions and appeals heard on or after Feb. 8, 2021.

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