Family Law, Real Estate Law, Wills & Estate Planning Law: Federal, Provincial and Territorial

Last July 6, The Ministry of the Attorney General, which is responsible for courts administration and courthouse facilities, began the first phase of a plan to return to full court operations across Ontario.  Starting with a limited number of courthouses and courtrooms, operations will continue to expand, with a targeted completion date of November 1, 2020.

While this is good news, there are still some obstacles to overcome when dealing with the court system as we navigate the ‘new normal.’

CaseLines: A not so ‘user-friendly’ online platform now in effect in the Ontario court system

On August 10, the Ministry of the Attorney General began rolling out a new pilot project: CaseLines, an online platform for remote court e-filings, trials and hearings. It is initially being used for selected civil motions and pre-trial conferences in Toronto, with the aim of expanding it to other practice areas and court locations. This platform has been used in England for over 10 years.

The goal is to have CaseLines implemented province-wide in all Superior Court of Justice locations by December 31, 2020. By then, the current backlog of about 600 files, accumulated since March, when the courts first closed, should be cleared.

While the Superior Court of Justice describes the cloud-based document sharing and storage e-hearing platform as “user-friendly”, in our experience, it has been otherwise. We have found that CaseLines involves a daunting amount of detail and a huge learning curve to master. While approximately 50% of all family litigants are currently self-represented, this is going to force a lot of them back to lawyers. And even lawyers are enrolling in training courses to learn how to use the program.

Health and safety measures in place in Ontario courts during Covid-19

In order to protect the health and safety of all court users and help contain the spread of COVID-19, members of the legal profession and the public are asked not to attend courthouses in person at this time unless they have been scheduled to appear in court, or if they are unable to electronically file family court documents relating to a scheduled family law matter

Persons attending court must arrive early to undergo screening measures prior to their scheduled appearance. The number of people who may be in the courthouse is restricted. Therefore, unless essential, family members or supporters should not accompany those scheduled to appear in court.

As well, those who have been advised to self-isolate should not come into the courthouse.

We’re here to help you manage your e-filing

If you are experiencing difficulty using CaseLines to manage your e-filing, trial or hearing remotely, or are unable to come to court because you have been told to self-isolate, we’re here to support you. At Howard Nightingale Professional Corporation, we are up to speed on CaseLines. We can provide the specialized financial planning and legal counsel to help you manage family court issues, real estate matters, and wills and estate planning, both remotely and in court. You can reach our Toronto office at 416-663-4423 or toll free at 1-877- 224-8225. We look forward to helping you get the job done efficiently, while remaining safe.

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