OCJ Update: New Rule and Changes to the Enhanced Designation Practice Direction re Electronic Signatures effective July 5, 2021

The Ontario Court of Justice has introduced a new rule with respect to electronic signatures and made changes to the practice direction governing Enhanced Designations of Counsel which come into effect on Monday July 5, 2021.  The combined effect of these rules is to allow accused persons to sign Enhanced Designations through their counsel, using the procedure set out in the revised Enhanced Designation Practice Direction.

The new criminal rule has two parts: (i) rule 3.4(1) defines electronic signatures and authorize their use in signing any electronic documents; (ii) rule 3.4(2) authorizes the Court to issue practice directions authorizing additional methods of signing particular electronic documents.  Pursuant to rule 3.4(2), a new provision (paragraph 10.1) has been added to the Enhanced Designation Practice Direction, allowing accused persons to sign Enhanced Designations through their counsel using the procedure set out therein.

The new rule and revised Practice Direction (with changes highlighted) are attached for your reference and are also available (in French and English) on the OCJ website (https://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/)