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Hamilton Law Association Operation re. COVID-19 and Related Notices to the Profession

On this page
APRIL 1 | Real Estate Update
MARCH 28 - Notice to Court Users re: Access to Ontario Court of Justice Proceedings during the COVID-19 Pandemic
MARCH 27 | Message to the Profession from Chief Justice Morawetz
MARCH 27 | Legal Aid Ontario Supports to the Bar
MARCH 26 | Land Registry Offices, Law Society Program, and Real Estate Update
MARCH 25 | Changes to summary Legal Advice Services at Legal Aid Ontario due to COVID-19
MARCH 24 | Notice to the Legal Profession re. Civil Claims Online Services
MARCH 24 | Central South Region RE. Family and Child Protection Matters
MARCH 24 | EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND CIVIL PROTECTION ACT ORDER UNDER SUBSECTION 7.0.2 (4) OF THE ACT - ELECTRONIC SERVICE
MARCH 24 | Ontario Releases List of Essential Workplaces That Can Remain Open Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
MARCH 23 | OCA SCJ OCJ Small Claims Court Emergency Modified Procedures
MARCH 23 | Hamilton Related Business Continuity and Recovery Information Website
MARCH 23 | Hamilton Law Association Operations Update re. COVID-19
MARCH 23 | Legal Aid Update and Regional Legal Aid Contact List
MARCH 21 | Closing Real Estate Transactions during a Pandemic
MARCH 21 | Province Suspends Limitation Periods and Other Deadlines
MARCH 20 | COVID-19 Pandemic Planning - Scheduling of Criminal and Family Matters in the Ontario Court of Justice
MARCH 20 | Hamilton Law Association CPD & Social Events Update re. COVID-19
MARCH 20 | Legal Aid Ontario and the Criminal Bar
MARCH 19 | Ontario Protecting Critical Front-Line Justice Services in Response to COVID-19
MARCH 18 UPDATE: Family Law Practitioners | Children's Aid Societies Suspending Certain Access Visits
MARCH 18 | Law Society Ontario Corporate Statement RE: Client Identification
MARCH 17 | Notice to the Profession Central South Civil Matters - COVID-19 Update
MARCH 17 | Court of Appeal COVID-19 Update

APRIL 1 | Real Estate Update

Apr 01, 2020

In an effort to keep real estate lawyers updated with the ever-changing situation, we have further information to be shared with the real estate lawyers in your association.

LRO Notice to Clients

The provincial government has issued a Notice to Land Registration System Clients confirming that Teraview continues to run for both search and registration, OnLand continues to run for search and various request functions, and that the all land registry offices are scheduled to be open from Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 12:00pm.

The Notice can be found in English and French on our website here.

Law Society CPD

The replay of the Law Society free audio webcast from Friday, March 27 entitled “Your Real Estate Practice and the COVID-19 Pandemic: What You Need to Know Right Now” is now available.

The link to the audio program is here and the link to the resource materials is here.

Lawyer Done Deal Remote Signing

Lawyer Done Deal has created a remote signing portal for lawyers where you can post documents to clients, host virtual closing meetings and view client signing activity, all while meeting social distancing and legal obligations. This portal is being offered free to all lawyers, whether or not you already have a LDD or RealtiWeb account. 

They are also working on including a client verification element that will be Fintrac compliant. More information is available on the LDD website here.

Expiry of Drivers Licences and Passports

What happens if a client’s ID has recently expired or will expire this month?  Renewals of passports and driver’s licences are currently suspended, so clients will not be able to get new ones while this pandemic continues. 

The Ontario government has extended the validity and expiration date of driver’s licences and Ontario Photo Cards. See here for more details.  We think this means that you should still be able to accept an Ontario driver’s licences as valid identification, even if the expiry date has passed.

Information on the Government of Canada Passport Services can be found here.

Tarion

A new Tarion Advisory was published on March 26 in response to the Emergency Order passed by the provincial government suspending limitation periods.  Tarion has suspended all warranty claim submission deadlines – the 30 day, year end, second year, major structural defect, delayed closing, financial loss and deposit claims deadlines have all been suspended.  Once the Emergency Order has been lifted, homeowners will receive a reasonable extension to submit their forms.  Tarion has also suspended timelines relating to builder repair periods, except for emergencies or health and safety issues.

The March 26, 2020 Tarion Advisory can be found here

Letter to MCAP

FOLA’s letter of March 26, 2020 regarding MCAP’s recent decision to close all refinance transactions through either FCT or FNF is posted on our website here

Working Group Fees, Disbursements & Taxes Calculator

Given the additional work that lawyers and their staff are doing in order to complete transactions during these challenging circumstances, many lawyers might be reviewing the amount of legal fees they are charging.

The Working Group on Lawyers and Real Estate has a Suggested Fee Schedule, which can be found here

In addition, they have now added a Fees, Disbursements & Taxes Calculator on their website which can be accessed here.

This new calculator does many things, simply by answering a few questions. 

Once you enter the value of the transaction, if you indicate your quoted fee, it will compare it to the suggested fee schedule, as a % of all costs and to the HST on the real estate agent's fees, which is great for marketing.

It will also:

  • calculate the LTT
  • calculate the MLTT (for Toronto properties)
  • calculate the first-time homebuyer rebates for LTT & MLTT
  • calculate the NRST (for GGH properties)
  • estimate the disbursements (suggestions provided but fully editable on the disbursements tab)
  • calculate for a purchase, a sale or a mortgage-only transaction
  • provide a personalized 2-page printout of the summary and estimates disbursements, which can be reviewed with or emailed to clients

MARCH 28 - Notice to Court Users re: Access to Ontario Court of Justice Proceedings during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Mar 30, 2020
As part of the collective efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus and to protect the health and safety of court users, justice system participants and members of the public, the Ontario Court of Justice is limiting access to courthouses.

Pursuant to a direction of the Chief Justice published on March 28, 2020, people should
not attend Ontario Court of Justice courthouses unless they fall in one of the exceptions
described below.

Urgent criminal and family matters: As of March 28, 2020, all urgent criminal and all
urgent family proceedings will be conducted by telephone and/or video conferencing,
unless otherwise ordered by a judicial official. Attendance in courtrooms for those matters will be restricted to the judicial official and essential court staff, unless a judicial official orders otherwise.

Urgent and/or essential criminal intake court: For urgent and/or essential criminal
intake court functions, attendance in courtrooms will be controlled.

Filing urgent documents: Court documents for urgent matters can now be filed by
email. See Notice to the Legal Profession and the Public regarding the process of
emailing urgent documents
at the Ontario Court of Justice (above).
For further details about the scheduling of proceedings in the Ontario Court of Justice,
including Provincial Offences Act matters, please refer to the Ontario Court of Justice
website.


Media:
A separate notice has been sent to the media advising how accredited media
can request access to court proceedings by remote attendance.

Remote attendance by counsel and/or litigants and in-custody accused:
• All court appearances by in-custody accused persons will be done remotely rather
than in person, unless a judicial official orders otherwise.
• Counsel and/or litigants will participate in hearings by remote means unless a
judicial official directs otherwise.
• If you have questions about scheduling a remote appearance, please contact the
relevant Trial Coordinator’s office.

Requests from persons for access to court proceedings:
• As noted, a separate notice has been sent to the media advising how accredited
media can request access to court proceedings by remote attendance.
• Justice system stakeholders may receive requests from persons with an interest
in a particular proceeding asking to attend or participate in the proceeding
remotely. Counsel who receive such a request should contact the Trial
Coordinator’s Office. Contact information for Trial Coordinators is provided
in this notice. The Trial Coordinator’s Office will confirm with the judiciary if the requesting party can be provided with access to the remote proceedings and, if so, make the necessary arrangements.
• Counsel should advise any non-party participants that, other than announcing their
presence at the start of the hearing, or unless asked or invited to participate by the
presiding judicial official, their phone must be on mute during the proceedings.

** These procedures are subject to change.

MARCH 27 | Message to the Profession from Chief Justice Morawetz

Mar 27, 2020
Dear Members of the Legal Community in Ontario,

As communicated in my March 15, 2020 Notices to the Profession, the decision to suspend all but urgent matters in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (SCJ), effective March 17, 2020 was not made lightly. It was a necessary step to protect all involved in SCJ proceedings during the COVID-19 crisis.

Since the suspension, all members of the SCJ’s Council of Regional Senior Judges have been discussing our capacity to expand operations. We know the profession, along with our judges and masters, are eager to do more. The primary impediment has been the ability of the Court to receive filed materials in an electronic format, as well as the provision of other court-related support necessary to run a virtual court. The Court knows, however, that it has a constitutional responsibility to ensure access to justice remains available.

Accordingly, with the support of the Council of Regional Senior Judges, the scope of events that may be heard remotely by the Superior Court of Justice will expand, effective April 6, 2020. I am seeking the advice of each Regional Senior Judge on each region’s capacity to expand services in this next phase of virtual court expansion. I accept that not all eight regions of the Court are alike – some may be better equipped to hear more types of events than others.

By Thursday April 2, 2020, I expect to issue further Notices to the Profession which will itemize the Court’s plan for expanded virtual courts, effective April 6, 2020.

Thank you for your patience and continued support during this time.

Geoffrey B. Morawetz,
Chief Justice.

C: The Honourable Doug Downey, Attorney General of Ontario

MARCH 27 | Legal Aid Ontario Supports to the Bar

Mar 27, 2020
As part of our ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is working to offer more business support and information to lawyers.

We are committed to instituting interim business solutions, and are eager to work with you while cooperating with the courts and Ministry of the Attorney General to maintain access to justice.

Following this note, we’ve listed resources regarding safe practices, as well as more key updates relevant to the legal community.

Further to our message on March 17 regarding service, billing and other steps LAO is taking, we are working hard to develop a suite of business supports to help you during this time.

These include:
 Extending the date for completing your self-report.
 As of March 27, reducing payment time from 28 to 14 days for submitted accounts.
 There is $17.8M in outstanding billings from the private bar in LAO’s accounts payable. LAO will pay this amount out on Friday.
 Re-instituting the bail block authorization to be added to certificates.
 Exploring ways for alternative payments.
 Waiving merit testing for bail review.
 Paying volunteer criminal lawyers who attended court March 16-20, 2020
 Working on a temporary payment option for block fees which will allow counsel the choice of billing on an hourly basis so lawyers can bill for prep work prior to the conclusion of a matter and bill for resolutions where they were not in attendance.
 Temporarily suspending collection on recoveries identified in audits and investigations.

We are also engaged in ongoing discussions with law associations in an effort to further clarify billing and certificate coverage rules.

For the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, some of LAO’s policies regarding legal and financial eligibility (excluding appellant matters) will be temporarily changed to allow us to quickly help people at heightened risk. In the coming days, legal and financial eligibility testing will be waived for the following:
 Criminal defence certificates for in-custody accused (excluding homicide)
 Summary legal advice
 Child, Youth, and Family Services Act (CYFSA) matters
 Psychiatric patients seeking assistance for CCB and ORB matters
 Victims of domestic abuse who are seeking family court assistance including initial and motion to change proceedings

Implementation details are still being worked out.

I have included some additional resources below relating to COVID-19.

With thanks and gratitude for your ongoing work and cooperation,

David Field
President and CEO
Legal Aid Ontario

MARCH 26 | Land Registry Offices, Law Society Program, and Real Estate Update

Mar 26, 2020

Law Society CPD

There is a Law Society free audio webcast on Friday, March 27 entitled “Your Real Estate Practice and the COVID-19 Pandemic: What You Need to Know Right Now.” Click here for more details.

We understand that the live program is now full.  The Law Society is replaying the program on April 1, 2 and 3. See the LSO CPD calendar here for more details.

Teraview and Land Registry Operations

You can expect some changes in the operation of the Land Registry Offices.  We urge you to be patient, to explain to your clients the uncertainties and delays which may occur and to be prepared with tools like the Lawyer’s Delayed Closing Escrow Agreement prepared by the Working Group on Lawyers and Real Estate, which can be found here.

This is the unofficial information we have received:

  • Teraview® and ONLand are still up and running and will continue to stay up during all normal hours! 
  • All physical Land Registry Offices have commenced reduced hours 9:30 to 12:30. If you need to do anything in paper you should verify the status of your local LRO.
  • Some physical LROs (mostly in Eastern Ontario) are still closing ad hoc. For the moment there is no work-around, but efforts are ongoing. The situation is unpredictable at best so lawyers and clients should be prepared to adapt. The list of unanticipated LRO closings is growing, not shrinking. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that non-convert deals will be registered.
  • For the time being it seems the volume of registrations in Teraview® are up, but certification rates are down to a crawl. Starting tomorrow, March 26th we expect that the LRO’s will move to much more stringent social distancing so even lower certification rates will likely result.

Banking Issues

We have reached out to the Law Society for assistance and we understand that they are contacting the financial industry and federal and provincial politicians regarding the following concerns:

  • Most banks are not accepting scanned documents for mortgage closings – and mortgage instructions require lawyers to be in the physical presence of borrowers, so even if we meet remotely, we need to be physically in the same room to sign the documents.
  • Lenders are not allowing lawyers to wire mortgage discharge funds, even though many bank branches are closed and those that are open are working on reduced hours.
  • Some lenders are now requiring all refinances to go through FCT or FNF, meaning borrowers will not have any legal representation.

There is a global pandemic with health and safety protocols to be followed. Remaining inflexible, requiring people to put themselves at risk and denying borrowers legal counsel is unconscionable.

Title Insurance

We strongly urge lawyers to think about the title insurers they are working with – is your preferred title insurer actively lobbying banks and government to remove lawyers from the real estate transaction? Are they marketing their ability to perform legal services that you ordinarily provide?  If so, the premiums you send them are funding these lobbying and marketing efforts.

There are title insurance companies, like TitlePLUS and Stewart Title, who are actively working to keep lawyers involved in real estate transactions, especially during these unprecedented times. 

DRA

Section 10 of the Document Registration Agreement (reproduced below) requires original documents to be provided within 2 business days of closing. You may want to consider amending this to either eliminate the need to send originals or extend the time frame.

This Agreement (or any counterpart hereof), and any of the closing documents herein before contemplated, may be exchanged by telefax or similar system reproducing the original, provided that all such documents have been properly executed by the appropriate parties. The party transmitting any such document(s) shall also provide the original executed version(s) of same to the recipient within 2 business days after the Closing Date, unless the recipient has indicated that he/she does not require such original copies.

Sending Closing Funds

Because many lawyers are now wiring purchase funds to the other lawyer whenever possible, a separate cheque is not being written to the mortgage lender for the discharge amount - the full balance is being delivered to the vendor’s lawyer with reliance on their undertaking to payout and discharge the mortgage. 

The Law Society guidelines recommend a separate cheque payable to the lender for the discharge amount to protect against fraud - lawyers who receive the funds but don’t pass them along to the lender, and consequently never receive a discharge.  You may be aware that there have been a few lawyers over the years who have gotten into some kind of trouble and who did this. It has been rare, but it has happened.

Given the current situation, there may be a greater risk of this happening if deals are not closing and people begin to feel desperate. Bills still need to be paid, and if there are fewer transactions closing, there may be a temptation to “borrow” the money sent for a discharge. 

If you are sending the full balance due to the lawyer on closing, you may want to consider amending your closing procedure to request evidence that the funds have been forwarded to the lender.

Corporate Amalgamations and Amendments

We have been advised that the only ServiceOntario office accepting amalgamations or amendments for Ontario companies, which need to be filed in person at the counter, is the Bay Street office in Toronto.

Land Transfer Tax pre-payments

We have also been advised that the Ministry of Finance is also no longer accepting payment of Land Transfer Tax at the Oshawa office. Pre-payments of LTT were done when you didn’t want to include the consideration on the transfer but rather simply include a statement that LTT was pre-paid.  For workarounds, you should contact the Ministry of Finance.

   

MARCH 25 | Changes to Summary Legal Advice Services at Legal Aid Ontario due to COVID-19

Mar 25, 2020

As part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is working to offer more resources to clients through the telephone and online.

Effective March 24, LAO is making the following changes to our summary legal advice services across the province:

  • Clients who would have received in-person legal aid services through the Family Law Information Centres will be able to get help from LAO over the phone by calling 1‑800‑668‑8258.

  • Clients can also receive over-the-phone summary legal advice services for criminal matters by calling 1‑800‑668‑8258.

  • More family staff lawyers are being added to increase capacity.

  • During this time, LAO will waive financial eligibility requirements for summary legal advice. Legal eligibility requirements remain in place.

LAO will ensure service level of having a family or criminal staff lawyer respond to an inquiry within 48 hours or less.

These changes will start to take effect until further notice, and will be fully implemented by Friday, March 27, 2020. For more information contact:

Graeme Burk
Senior Media Relations Advisor
Legal Aid Ontario
media@lao.on.ca

MARCH 24 | Notice to the Legal Profession re. Civil Claims Online Service

Mar 24, 2020
Lawyers and litigants are encouraged to use Civil Claims Online to file eligible documents and to receive electronically issued documents in Superior Court of Justice civil actions.

Civil Claims Online can be accessed at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/file-civil-claim-online.

Document filing fees can be paid through the system. The documents which can be filed through Civil Claims Online are set out in Rule 4.05.1 of the Rules of Civil Procedure and are listed below.

This service should not be used to file documents in a proceeding that has been declared by the judiciary to require an urgent hearing pursuant to the Superior Court of Justice's Notice to the Profession, the Media and the Public dated March 15, 2020 or pursuant to the Commercial List Users Committee Notice dated March 16, 2020. Civil

Claims Online was expanded on March 23, 2020 to allow more documents to be filed online:

• Jury Notice (Form 47A)
• Statement of Defence and Counterclaim (Forms 18A and 27A)
• Statement of Defence and Crossclaim (Forms 18A and 28A)
• Defence to Crossclaim (Form 28B)
• Defence to Counterclaim (Form 27C)
• Third, Fourth or Subsequent Party Claim or a claim by a defendant to a counterclaim or crossclaim (Form 29A)
• Third, Fourth or Subsequent Party Defence (Form 29B)
• Certificate of Action under the Construction Act s.36 (Form 14 under the Construction Act)
• Notice of Discontinuance (Form 23A)
• Consent to Discontinuance filed for the purposes of clause 23.01(1)(c).

The expansion enables the electronic delivery of more court issued documents:
• A third, fourth or subsequent party claim (Form 29A).
• A certificate of action under section 36 of the Construction Act (Form 14 under that Act).

Documents available for online filing prior to the expansion:
• Statement of Claim (Form 14A, Form 14B or Form 14D)
• Notice of Action (Form 14C)
• Affidavit of Litigation Guardian of a Plaintiff under a Disability (Form 4D)
• Request for Bilingual Proceedings (Form 1)
• Consent to file documents in French
• Statement of Defence (Form 18A)
• Notice of Intent to Defend (Form 18B)
• Consent or Court Order (Form 59A) required in support of filing a document online
• Proof of Service for documents filed online (Form 16B, 16C, 17A, 17B, 17C or any documents listed in r. 16.09).

Documents available for electronic delivery prior to the expansion:
• Statement of Claim (Form 14A, Form 14B or Form 14D)
• Notice of Action (Form 14C)

The use of the Civil Claims Online system to electronically file and issue additional civil court documents was authorized by O. Reg. 456/19, amending the Rules of Civil Procedure, filed on December 19, 2019 and in force on March 23, 2020.

Rules 4.05 and 4.05.1 of the Rules of Civil Procedure apply to the use of Civil Claims Online.

A Justice Services Online account is required to access the service.
Feedback can be offered through the “Rate Our Service” survey on the service and civilclaimsonline@ontario.ca.

MARCH 24 | Central South Region RE. Family and Child Protection Matters

Mar 24, 2020

(NOTE: This replaces NOTICE TO PROFESSION dated March 18, 2020)

The Region of Central South is operating pursuant to the Notice to the Profession from Chief Justice Morawetz dated March 15, 2020. That Notice can be found at: https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/covid-19-suspension-fam/. Please review the Notice carefully in conjunction with this document.

MATTERS BEING HEARD AT THIS TIME

1. Chief Justice Morawetz’ Notice to the Profession provides that only urgent matters are being heard at this time. The list of matters that qualify as urgent is very narrow.

2. The determination of “urgency” will be made by the judge receiving a request for a hearing or determination. This is a summary determination.

3. Judges are presently addressing cases remotely, in writing or by teleconference. Judges do not presently have access to court files – either the physical file or scanned copies of court documents.

4. Matters deemed urgent will be addressed based on the written record or after hearing by teleconference as the Judge may determine.

CHILD PROTECTION

Ontario has enacted a new regulation pursuant to the Civil Management and Emergency Protection Act which provides as follows:

5.  Now therefore, an Order is made pursuant to subsection 7.1(2) of the Act, the terms of which Order are the following:

Any provision of any statute, regulation, rule, by-law or Order of the government of Ontario establishing any limitation period shall be suspended for the duration of the emergency, and the suspension shall be retroactive to Monday, March 16, 2020.

Any provision of any statute, regulation, rule, by-law or order of the Government of Ontario establishing any period of time within which any step must be taken in any proceeding in Ontario, including any intended proceeding, shall, subject to the discretion of the court, tribunal or other decision-maker responsible for the proceeding, be suspended for the duration of the emergency, and the suspension shall be retroactive to March 16, 2020.

6. The Court will be available to address urgent matters related to the safety of any child.

7. The following protocols now apply to adjournments of child protection matters:
a. All child protection matters set for short motions, long motions, temporary care hearings, settlement conferences, trial management conferences, or trials, currently scheduled to take place in March, 2020, are adjourned to be spoken to on June 2, 2020 at 10:00 am TBST; New dates will be set at that time. Existing Orders to continue.
b. All child protection matters set for short motions, long motions, temporary care hearings, settlement conferences, trial management conferences, or trials, currently scheduled to take place in April, 2020, are adjourned to be spoken to on June 3, 2020 at 10:00 am; New dates will be set at that time. Existing Orders to continue.
c. All child protection matters set for short motions, long motions, temporary care hearings, settlement conferences, trial management conferences, or trials, currently scheduled to take place in May, 2020, are adjourned to be spoken to on June 4, 2020 at 10:00 am; Existing Orders to continue.
d. All TBST appearances (CAS “lists”), and first returns of status review applications (where the child’s current placement IS NOT sought to be changed by any party), currently scheduled in court are adjourned to June 5, 2020 at 10:00 am. Existing Order to Continue.
e. If a child protection matter was adjourned on or after March 16, 2020 but before March 24, 2020, the above dates will still apply.
f. EXCEPTION-We are aware of the conflict that the bar has in St. Catharines, Welland, Cayuga and Simcoe. We are working on a solution and we will advise the respective bar associations of those solutions in due course.

8. Endorsements regarding the adjournments set out above will be prepared by the Court and forwarded to the applicable local Children’s Aid Society and counsel; if a party does not have counsel, the CAS is requested to provide the Endorsement to those parties.

9. Any filing deadlines previously set for scheduled matters are no longer in effect. New filing deadlines will be set at the applicable appearances in June, 2020 as set out in paragraph 7, above.

10. All 5-day hearings after the removal of a child, and first returns of status review applications (where the placement of a child IS sought to be changed by any party), shall be treated as urgent matters in accordance with this Notice to the Profession. (https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/covid-19-suspension-fam/).
11. Any other child protection matter (including an application that does not request bringing a child to a place of safety or a temporary care hearing), may be brought to court in the same manner as 5-day hearings as set out above, where a party regards that matter as urgent. Your matter will be reviewed by the Triage Judge. If determined to be urgent, a judge will be assigned and a hearing by teleconference will be arranged by the Trial Coordinator.

FAMILY MATTERS

12. All family matters set for TBST’s, short motions, long motions, conferences, or trials, in March, 2020, are adjourned to be spoken to on June 9, 2020 at 10:00 am TBST; New dates will be set at that time;

13. All family matters set for TBST’s, short motions, long motions, conferences, or trials, in April, 2020, are adjourned to be spoken to on June 10, 2020 at 10:00 am TBST; New dates will be set at that time;

14. All family matters set for TBST’s, short motions, long motions, conferences, or trials, in May, 2020, are adjourned to be spoken to on June 11, 2020 at 10:00 amTBST; New dates will be set at that time;

15. All family matters with a judicial telephone call currently scheduled between now and June 1, 2020 will go ahead as planned.
a. EXCEPTION-We are aware of the conflict that the bar has in St. Catharines, Welland, Cayuga and Simcoe. We are working on a solution and we will advise the respective bar associations of those solutions in due course.

URGENT MATTERS (FAMILY AND CHILD PROTECTION)


16. If you believe that a matter meets the threshold for urgency, you must submit a request for a hearing to the court by 14B motion on notice to the email address set out below at paragraph 21.

17. The Triage Judge may make the determination of urgency based on the request alone or request further information. If notice has not been given, the Triage Judge may direct that notice be provided.

18. If the triage Judge determines that a matter is urgent, he or she will also determine whether the hearing will be in writing or by teleconference.

19. All materials submitted to the court must be as brief (10MB in total in accordance with the Notice of the Chief Justice). If the judge requires more information, he or she will request same. If a specific judge has previously had prior involvement in the file, you may wish to highlight that fact.

20. The subject line of email must contain the file number and parties’ names. Example: FC-20-00000503-0000 DOE vs. DOE

21. Requests for an urgent hearing and any other court documents in relation thereto must be filed by e-mail by sending them to the applicable email address:
 Brantford BrantfS@ontario.ca
 Cayuga Cayuga.Superior.Court@ontario.ca
 Hamilton Hamilton.Superior.Court@ontario.ca
 Hamilton Family Court Hamilton.Family.Superior.Court@ontario.ca
 Kitchener/Waterloo Kitchener.Superior.Court@ontario.ca
 Simcoe Simcoe.Superior.Court@ontario.ca
 St. Catharines St.Catharines.Superior.Court@ontario.ca
 Welland Welland.Superior.Court@ontario.ca

22. The e-mail box will be checked regularly by the Trial Coordinator who is also working remotely. The TC will forward your request to the Triage Judge who will determine whether the matter is urgent. If the matter is urgent it will be assigned to a Judge for determination.

23. Please do not e-mail the Trial Coordinator directly about requests for urgent hearings. If you have questions that are not answered by this Notice or by Chief Justice’s Notice to the Profession, please send an e-mail to the applicable email address set out in paragraph 21.

EX PARTE MOTIONS

24. Ex parte motions should be submitted to the applicable email address set out in paragraph 21. The motion will be forwarded to the Triage Judge. If the matter is found to be urgent the matter will be assigned to a judge for determination. If the matter is determined not to be urgent you will receive an endorsement providing same. If the Judge finds that the motion must be served, an Endorsement to that effect will be sent to you by email.

25. The Trial Coordinator will deliver the endorsement to the moving party by email. The judge who determines the matter will also determine how the order should be served on the other party. You should not assume that the court administration is available for service and you should make proposals in your motion materials regarding how the order and materials should be served.

26. A date will also be set by the Trial Coordinator to have the order reviewed within 14 days per Rule 14(14) of the Family Law Rules. All new materials in relation to the review shall be filed by email to the applicable email address set out in paragraph 18. The review shall take place by teleconference.

MATERIALS

27. The e-mail box cannot accept attachments in excess of 10 MB. Please ensure that the documents are clearly labelled.

TELECONFERENCES

28. If a hearing by teleconference is required, the Trial Coordinator will provide all parties and counsel with a dial in number and a pin code to use. The judge shall be the host/moderator of the conference.

29. The number of conference call lines available is very limited and the lines are being used for hearings in all lines of business: family, criminal and civil. Efforts are being made to arrange for more phone lines. However, the time available for teleconferences will be necessarily abbreviated.

30. You are asked not to phone in more than 5 minutes in advance. There have been some difficulties in accessing the phone lines; if you cannot connect initially, please make several attempts before notifying the Trial Coordinator.

31. Unless otherwise advised by the judge, the conference call shall be recorded.

32. Please remember that this teleconference is a formal court event that replaces an in-person attendance.

MATTERS ON A TRIAL LIST

33. There are no trials until further notice.

34. New dates will be set in June as set out above in paragraphs 7, and 12 - 14.

RESOURCES FOR SELF-REPRESENTED PARTIES

35. It does not appear that on-site duty counsel or advice lawyer services will continue. In the interim, self-represented parties can be directed to Legal Aid Ontario: 1-800-668-8258 for assistance, although we expect limited services to be available for clients who do not qualify financially.

36. We have been advised by the local office of Legal Aid Ontario that they are preparing a plan to make legal advice with local legal aid lawyers available by telephone. We encourage you to check the Legal Aid Ontario website regularly for more information.
MEDIATION/ Information and Resource Coordinators

37. We are advised that on-site mediation has been suspended until further notice. The Court is advised that off-site mediation is also working on distance-mediation options so that mediation may be offered by teleconference/ videoconference. We encourage the bar to contact AXIS Mediation for more information: 1-888-988-2947.

38. Information and Referral Coordinators (IRC’s) from each court location in the region continue to be available to assist the public remotely. The contact information for IRC coordinators is available at axisfamilymediation.com.

Harrison S. Arrell
Regional Senior Justice – Superior Court of Justice
Central South Region

MARCH 24 | EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND CIVIL PROTECTION ACT ORDER UNDER SUBSECTION 7.0.2 (4) OF THE ACT - ELECTRONIC SERVICE

Mar 24, 2020

Whereas an emergency was declared pursuant to Order in Council 518/2020 (Ontario Regulation 50/20) on March 17, 2020 at 7:30 a.m. Toronto time pursuant to section 7,0,1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act the "Act");

And Whereas the criteria set out in subsection 7.0.2 (2) of the Act have been satisfied;

Now Therefore, this Order is made pursuant to paragraph 8 of subsection 7.02 (4) of the Act, the terms of which are set out in Schedule I;

And Further, this Order applies generally throughout Ontario;

And Further, this Order shall be in effect for the duration of the declared emergency, subject to section 7.0.8 of the Act.

This applies to documents served on

  • the Crown
  • Ministers of the Crown, including the Attorney General of Ontario
  • the Children’s Lawyer
  • the Public Guardian and Trustee and
  • the Director of the Family Responsibility Office.

A copy of the order is attached below:

https://www.hamiltonlaw.on.ca/docs/default-source/miscellaneous/mag---service-on-the-crown.pdf?sfvrsn=2

The Order in Council will also be posted on this website: https://www.ontario.ca/search/orders-in-council  and on e-Laws, as a regulation under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act at: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90e09?search=emergency+management.

SCHEDULE I

  1. For the duration of the emergency, service of documents on the Crown in right of Ontario, any Minister of the Crown including the Attorney General of Ontario, the Children's Lawyer, the Public Guardian and Trustee or the Director of the Family Responsibility Office in any proceeding, including any intended proceeding, other than a criminal proceeding, shall only be effected by such electronic means as the Attorney General may designate on the website of the Ministry of the Attorney General;
  2. Section 1 of this Schedule also applies with respect to service of documents on any other person where a statute, regulation or rule requires the documents to be left with the Children's Lawyer or the Public Guardian and Trustee;
  3.  Sections 1 and 2 of this Schedule apply despite section 15 of the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act, 2019 or any other statute, regulation or rule governing service on the Crown in right of Ontario, any Minister of the Crown including the Attorney General of Ontario, the Children's Lawyer, the Public Guardian and Trustee or the Director of the Family Responsibility Office.

MARCH 24 | Ontario Releases List of Essential Workplaces That Can Remain Open Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Mar 24, 2020

Workplaces that have been deemed "non-essential" or "at-risk" have until the end of Tuesday to close up shop.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has ordered all non-essential stores and services to close at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"While this was a difficult decision, we trust that Ontario's business leaders will be able to promote safety while carrying out business and protecting jobs," Ford said in a news release on Monday.

"The grocery store clerks, transit and hydro workers and truckers are out there on the front lines making sure the people of Ontario continue to have access to the products and services they need. It is essential that their workplaces be kept as safe as possible so these local heroes can return home to their families worry free."

List of Essential Workplaces

The Ontario government says: "For the purposes of this order, businesses include any-for-profit, non-profit or other entity providing the goods and services described herein. This does not preclude the provision of work and services by entities not on this list either online, by telephone or by mail/delivery. Note that teleworking and online commerce are permitted at all times for all businesses."

Justice Sector

61. Professional and social services that support the legal and justice system;

Other Businesses

65. Professional services including lawyers and para-legals, engineers, accountants, translators;

VIEW FULL LIST HERE

MARCH 23 | OCA SCJ OCJ Small Claims Court Emergency Modified Procedures

Mar 24, 2020
As you are aware, the Government of Ontario has enacted a declaration of a provincial emergency in relation to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The Ministry of the Attorney General’s Court Services Division continues to monitor and respond to the evolving situation.

To further protect the health and safety of all court users and to help contain the spread of COVID-19, we ask members of the legal profession and members of the public NOT to attend courthouses in person at this time, unless they are required to be in court for a hearing or to make an urgent filing in a civil, criminal or family matter.

All the Ontario courts have modified their procedures and practices as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more detailed information about these temporary procedures and practices, including the nature of urgent matters, please visit the websites for the Court of Appeal for Ontario, the Superior Court of Justice, or the Ontario Court of Justice.

Parties may file Claims or Statements of Claim through the Small Claims Court online filing service, or the Civil Claims Online Portal for Superior Court of Justice civil matters. Limited family proceedings can also be filed electronically through the Ministry of the Attorney General’s website for filing divorce applications.

Please also be aware that on March 20, 2020, an order was made under s. 7.1(2) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act suspending certain limitation and other time periods for the duration of the emergency.

It is especially important that people do not attend an Ontario courthouse if:
• they have COVID-19-related symptoms, including but not limited to fever, coughing, sore throat, difficulty breathing, muscle aches;
• they have travelled outside Canada within the last 14 days; or
• they have been advised by a health professional or health authority to self-isolate.

Thank you for your assistance in protecting the health and well-being of all Ontarians and for your continued support and cooperation to ensure that urgent and priority legal matters can continue to be heard in our courts.

MARCH 23 | Hamilton Related Business Continuity and Recovery Information Website

Mar 20, 2020
Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, together with City of Hamilton, Hamilton Economic Development, Flamborough Chamber of Commerce and Stoney Creek Chamber of Commerce have compiled a COVID19 Business Continuity and Recovery Information website to help residence navigate resources available to assist in this trying time. HLA Members are encouraged to visit the site and share its with your clients. For more information, visit https://www.hamiltonchamber.ca/covid19/.

MARCH 23 | Hamilton Law Association Operations Update re. COVID-19

Mar 19, 2020

Since our update yesterday, the COVID-19 pandemic situation has dramatically changed. Please see below for all of the updates from the The Hamilton Law Association regarding our library services, association services, and events and meetings:

Library Services:

  • The library is unstaffed as of Tuesday, March 17, 2020,  and will remain so until further notice, on the advice of public health agencies and the Legal Information and Resource Network.
  • If the Courthouse is open, our doors remain unlocked but please note the following:
    • Photocopy services will be available through our coin-op machine in the staff printing room;
    • Printing services will be available provided that printing be recorded on the after hours log next to the front office photocopier; 
    • Regular disinfecting is not being carried out (including the public computers and copy room supplies), so use with caution and follow Hamilton Public Health guidelines to protect yourself and others;
    • Online legal research assistance can be provided by e-mail only. Please email Law Librarian Laura Richmond at either lrichmond@hamiltonlaw.on.ca or reference@hamiltonlaw.on.ca. Online case law and research databases, such as Advanced Quicklaw, Practice Advisor, Rangefindr, and O'Brien's Forms, are available on all computers in the Anthony Pepe Memorial Library.

Association Services:

  • No association or membership services will be available on-site as of Tuesday, March 17, 2020. This includes paying for membership on-site, getting new membership cards, or payment for lockers. For any questions at all to do with HLA membership or lockers, please email Membership Coodinator Rachel Anderson;
  • Access to the lounge and robing rooms will be available between 8:30 a.m. to 5:00p.m. and after hours to current access card-holders;
  • The HLA Executive and Board of Trustees will continue to meet via teleconference during this time. Please email Executive Director Rebecca Bentham if you have any concerns or comments you would like to bring forward to the Board;
  • For all financial matters related to invoices, payments, or receivables, please contact Manager of Finance Wendy Spearing; and
  • For all other Association related matters, as well as website inquiries, please contact Executive Assistant Marica Piedigrossi

Events & Meetings:

  • The Executive Committee will be meeting on Wednesday, March 18th to discuss next steps related to the possible postponement or cancellation of certain HLA events. All event registrations are on hold until further notice;
  • Revised dates for events that will be postponed will be published on the HLA website and announced through email when available beginning tomorrow;
  • All previously-scheduled committee meetings will be either cancelled or carried out remotely, at the discretion of committee chairs. Information will be provided to attendees directly;
  • No new meetings will be booked in the HLA meeting rooms until a return to work date has been decided;
  • No HLA Event staff will be on-site effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020. If you have any questions about HLA events, please email Event Coordinator Kristjana Frani, Event Coordinator Shega Berisha, or events@hamiltonlaw.on.ca

As needed, we will provide updates of local relevance and post updates on our website. If you have any concerns or comments at all, please email Rebecca Bentham.  For general court information, please always refer to the Ontario Court of Justice and Superior Court of Justice websites.

We wish all of the Hamilton legal community health and safety during this time. 

MARCH 23 | Legal Aid Update and Regional Legal Aid Contact List

Mar 23, 2020

Effective as of end of day on Friday, March 20, 2020, LAO has stopped all in-person staff and per diem services in the courthouses across the province until further notice.  They will be using their normal system of staff and per diems for all services done remotely.  Certificates will still be available in the normal course.  Also, LAO recently announced that  it will be temporarily re-instating the bail block to the private bar with certificates in order to respond to demand as a result of COVID-19. Details to follow. Panel lawyers should know that they can do bails (on certificates) and be paid per the former rules.

LAO also announced that, in order to ensure that those in remand are getting fair treatment and timely access to justice, LAO will no longer assess merit prior to granting bail review authorizations.

Further, LAO is exploring billing and administrative changes to support the private bar and their legally aided clients during this crisis period.

FOLA will endeavour to keep you updated and you are also encouraged to visit their website frequently for more information. 

And finally, below is a regional contact list for LAO staff for your information. 

LEGAL AID ONTARIO REGIONAL CONTACT LIST

MARCH 21 | Closing Real Estate Transactions during a Pandemic

Mar 23, 2020

Dear Real Estate Representatives,

1.    Upcoming Law Society Webinar for Real Estate Lawyers

The Law Society is scheduling a free webinar for real estate lawyers for Friday, March 27 from 12:00pm to 2:00pm to address the issues that real estate lawyers are facing right now.  Keep your eye out for further details. 

2.    There are no plans to shut down Teraview®

Several lawyers have reached out to let me know that their local Land Registry Office is closed.  Apparently some small LROs and some co-located within ServiceOntario centres have, in fact, closed. However, I have been advised that notwithstanding these closures, it is still business as usual for land registration and documents can continue to be registered via Teraview®.

If your local LRO is closed, you will not be able to register any paper documents (e.g. Registry Act documents, certain Land Titles documents that must be submitted in paper, plans, etc.). They cannot be submitted via OnLand or sent to another LRO.  Registration of paper documents in these LROs will not be accepted for registration or deposit until that LRO office reopens. 

If an LRO has closed, there is no access to ROSCO computer terminals, and full-size white prints of plans will not be available through the LRO or Teraview®.

If you have a paper deal in an LRO that is closed, you will need to explore workarounds (e.g. title insurance gap coverage, escrow agreement, postponement, etc.).

3.    Banks remain open and mortgages are funding

There don’t seem to be any bank closures, and mortgages continue to be funding. I have been advised that certain branches will be closing – in Ottawa we’ve been told that only bank in each zone will remain open.  I don’t know how big a zone is, or how many zones there are, but I’m assuming that there will be delays in getting money to and from the bank if cheques or drafts are involved. 

4.    Tarion acknowledges that unavoidable delays are likely

Builders are sending out delay notices to purchasers.  If you have upcoming purchases from a builder, check with your client to confirm if they have received a notice of delay.

Tarion issued an Advisory on Friday confirming that the builder repair period has been suspended until April 13, 2020, and that homeowners may refuse access and builders may refuse to perform after-sales services during the Covid-19 pandemic without penalty. All conciliations, inspections, common element meetings and other in-person meetings scheduled for the next month will also be postponed. The Tarion Advisory can be found here.

Tarion issued a further Advisory on March 16 regarding pre-delivery inspections and delayed closings, which can be found here and here.

5.    Working remotely

Many lawyers and law firms are closing their offices and working remotely. My office gave all the lawyers and staff the option to work from home and equipped everyone with the tools to make this possible.  (My partner had the foresight to purchase 25 chromebooks two weeks ago and then had vpn software installed on each of them.)

This week, however, we closed the office entirely as a precautionary measure to safeguard the wellbeing of our lawyers and staff. It was a difficult decision, because most people cannot work as efficiently from home.  Fewer, smaller screens. No popping by a colleagues’ desk to ask a “quick” question. But it had to be done.

If you and/or your staff need to work remotely, here are some things to consider:

a)    Use technology to your advantage.

If the other lawyers and staff in your office have laptops, tablets or phones with cameras and microphones, consider video conferencing with them from time to time.

There are several good video conferencing applications that will allow you to connect and collaborate with your colleagues and staff. Video conferences can yield better results than phone calls. Some video conferencing technology allow you to share your screen, so that you can collaborate more effectively.  It can also make you feel less isolated.

You can also take advantage of text messaging or instant messaging to cut back on your email clog. 

Send as much as you can by email. I know, I’ve mentioned email clog twice already and now I’m suggesting more email. But it is practical. Just remember that email is not secure, so you may want to encrypt certain documents before emailing them (Word, Excel and most PDF programs have encryption by password built into them – it’s simple to do. Just don’t send the password in an email – call the recipient with the password). 

b)    Think about your accounting needs. 

My firm instituted a “wire transfer only” (or direct deposits for incoming funds) policy.  We wanted to cut back on the need for paper cheques for two reasons – one, if the firm had to close and operate remotely, cheques become more difficult since two partners need to sign all trust cheques; and two, electronic banking means fewer hands touching the money and spreading germs.  We set up a remote accounting office, within close proximity to two partners’ houses, so cheques can be printed, couriered to the partners for signature, and then sent to the recipient.  It will definitely take more time than when we are down the hall from one another, but it works for those times when we can’t wire funds into the recipient’s account.

If you don’t have the ability to wire directly from your desktop, speak to your bank about getting it.  It’s a game changer.  Unfortunately, it might take a while at this point, as banks are likely working with reduced staff and high volumes right now.

c)    Client meetings    

Many law firms whose offices are still open are restricting access. Drop-ins are discouraged and client meetings are strictly by appointment only. 

If you are meeting with clients in person, lawyers and clients should follow health authority recommendations – don’t shake hands, sit as far apart as possible, disinfect the space regularly, etc.  When making the appointment and before meeting with them, ask your clients if they are experiencing any symptoms, if they have been in contact with someone who is sick, has tested positive for Covid-19 or if they are self-isolating for any reason.  If the answer is yes, consider the health and safety of you and your staff and determine if the meeting can be postponed or conducted remotely.

Some lawyers are having clients place documents on a table or counter rather than handing them to another person directly.  If your office has the technology, you can meet with clients remotely within your office.  The clients can be in one meeting room and the lawyer in other, meeting by video or telephone to review the documents.  The lawyer can go into the clients’ room to witness the signature from a healthy distance, and sign as witness or commission once the clients leave. 

If you are meeting with clients remotely, review the Law Society’s Corporate Statement on Covid-19 that includes information on remotely identifying and verifying identity of clients and virtually commissioning documents.  Be aware of your legal obligations and document your file well. Most title insurers are confirming coverage even for deals signed up remotely – check with your preferred title insurer for details.

You can also refer to the attached “Basic Approach for Remote Signing”, which includes a Video Conference Checklist.

6.    Fraudsters love chaos

Be alert to fraud.  The bad guys take advantage of vulnerable people and vulnerable situations.  Keep your spidey senses on high alert. Some of the key red flags to watch out for are:

i)      last minute changes in payment instructions

ii)     instructions to send funds to unrelated third parties

iii)   rush deals with new clients

iv)   the sale or refinance of mortgage-free or vacant land

v)    deals involving elderly or vulernable individuals or people who are not receiving a benefit from a refinance transaction

vi)   emails offering a covid antidote

7.    Off title search results may not be available

Some off-title search results may be delayed and may not be available in time for your closing. Check with your title insurer to confirm if coverage is available.  Understand what coverage will be available if the search result comes back following closing and reveals deficiencies. Communicate well with your client.

Be proactive. Be patient.  Responses will take longer as more and more people work remotely and offices have fewer people available due to illness, quarantine, self-isolation, or childcare issues. 

Deals will be more difficult to close.  But we are all in this together. Encourage compassion and reasonableness.  Consider how a court will be likely to respond to hardline responses to issues relating to or resulting from this pandemic.

Sid Troister sent out a great email bulletin yesterday, where he said “My unauthoritative advice is to make sure that when these decisions have to be made, you explain to your clients the options and implications fully, ensure sure that you have documented both the advice and options you gave your client and the instructions you received including sending them confirmation.  Make sure that advice to clients is in plain language.  You don’t want them saying that they did not understand because it was all too technical.  As I say, deals may be much harder to complete these days so you need to have a good record of the steps taken to protect yourself and in so doing, you will also be protecting your client.”

 

MARCH 21 | Province Suspends Limitation Periods and Other Deadlines

Mar 23, 2020

The provincial government through the Lieutenant Governor in Council made an order under s. 7.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act suspending limitation periods and procedural time periods. The suspension is retroactive to March 16, 2020.  

The Order in Council can be viewed here:

https://www.oba.org/getmedia/31b388c7-2b5b-4193-b338-52d573c0c2aa/EMCPA-Order-eng-fr

The Order in Council will also be posted on this website: https://www.ontario.ca/search/orders-in-council  and on e-Laws, as a regulation under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act at: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90e09?search=emergency+management.

 

MARCH 20 | COVID-19 Pandemic Planning - Scheduling of Criminal and Family Matters in the Ontario Court of Justice

Mar 20, 2020
Please do not come into a courthouse if you have been advised by public health officials, your doctor or the Ontario Ministry of Health (MOH) website (https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus) to self-isolate.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario Court of Justice issued a directive on March 15, 2020, “COVID-19 Pandemic Planning for the Scheduling of Matters in the Ontario Court of Justice” to reduce the number of people who attend court for criminal, family and Provincial Offences Act matters. That directive has been revised and extended, as of March 20, 2020.

Unless you have an urgent criminal or an urgent family court appearance in the Ontario Court of Justice between Friday March 20, 2020 and Friday May 29, 2020 do not attend court.

All family trials, criminal trials and preliminary inquiries between Friday March 20, 2020 and Friday May 29, 2020 are suspended, subject to a judge seized with a continuing matter ordering otherwise. This applies to both in-custody and out-of-custody accused.
The Court is reducing the number of courtrooms that will operate. Judicial officials will remain available to preside over:
• regularly scheduled bail courts, remand and plea courts for in-custody proceedings;
• plea court for urgent out-of-custody matters;
• urgent family proceedings;
• applications under the Health Protection and Promotion Act; and
• urgent and/or essential intake court functions.

For more details, please see COVID-19 Pandemic Planning – Scheduling of Criminal Matters in the Ontario Court of Justice (March 20, 2020)
COVID-19 Pandemic Planning – Scheduling of Family Matters in the Ontario Court of Justice (March 20, 2020)
For information about the scheduling of Provincial Offences Act proceedings, please see Notice to Public regarding Provincial Offences Act Matters.

MARCH 20 | Hamilton Law Association CPD & Social Events Update re. COVID-19

Mar 23, 2020

The Hamilton Law Association is continuing to implement the social distancing measures currently being required to slow the spread of COVID-19.We have been monitoring COVID-19 across the country and considering the advice of public health experts. We believe such temporary measures will protect the health and safety of the community, including our members, volunteers, program attendees and staff.

At this time, we wish to advise you of the following amendments to our program calendar:

  • All social events scheduled to take place in March, April, May and June (before July 1st) will be postponed or cancelled. This includes the following events:
  1. Annual Dinner | Thursday, April 16th, 2020 - POSTPONED
  2. Annual General Meeting | Wednesday, May 6th, 2020 - TO BE HELD ELECTRONICALLY
  3. Articling Reception | Wednesday, May 13th, 2020 - CANCELLED UNTIL 2021
  4. Family Law Spring Social | Thursday, May 21st, 2020 - POSTPONED
  • All Executive Committee, Board of Trustees, and Subcommittee meetings scheduled to take place in March, April, May, and June (before July 1st) will be either cancelled or carried out remotely, at the discretion of committee chairs. Information will be provided to attendees directly.
  • With respect to CPD education programs, scheduled to take place in March, April, May and June (before July 1st) will be postponed or cancelled.This includes the the 34th Annual Joint Insurance Seminar scheduled for Tuesday, April 28th, 2020.We will be in touch with planning chairs, registrants, and sponsors of all CPD education programs regarding arrangements for their programs.If you have already registered and submitted payment for a CPD program, your registration will be honoured at a later date.

For more information and updates on the impact of COVID-19 on HLA programs and for a list of all postponed or cancelled events and programs, click here.

Please refer to your local public health authority or the following links for details on the current Health Canada guidelines or the CDC guidelines.

MARCH 20 | Legal Aid Ontario and the Criminal Bar

Mar 20, 2020

Legal Aid Ontario is still up and running and is doing it’s best to serve Ontarians.  They are currently working with the courts and MAG to make online services available for all matters. 

In terms of coordinating the private bar to assist in providing remote services, they have asked to direct those interested in accepting certificates to contact Sid Freeman sidfreeman@bell.net at the Criminal Law Association (CLA). 

Sid will need the following information from you:

  1. Your name, email address, and phone number
  2. Your city, region, and law association.

If you are assigned shifts, you will be paid hourly and will be provided with a special DCPO (duty counsel per diem number).   You MUST use the existing regular per diem sign-in sheets on sign in and upon exiting.  These sign in sheets will be available electronically - either as an attachment or through a portal. 

The CLA anticipates the Ontario Court of Justice will implement systems in short order to allow all lawyers to work remotely so we can safely work together while we battle COVID-19.  Once these systems are in place, they would like to be able to call on as many lawyers as possible to assist. 

Again, please send your contact information to Sid Freeman at sidfreeman@bell.net and she will assign you to your regional contact once remote capabilities are in place. 

 

MARCH 19 | Ontario Protecting Critical Front-Line Justice Services in Response to COVID-19

Mar 19, 2020

TORONTO — Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Doug Downey, Attorney General, issued the following statement in response to COVID-19 and the government's commitment to keep communities safe while continuing to hold offenders accountable:

"The health and well-being of Ontarians is our government's number one priority. This commitment extends across the vast network of justice partners and individuals who interact with the justice system on a daily basis.

We are working around the clock with our partners to respond to this constantly evolving public health issue. Adjustments are being made throughout the justice system to minimize disruption and continue to provide seamless, responsive justice services to all Ontarians, particularly the most vulnerable members of our communities.

Technology Solutions and Prioritizing Urgent Matters

To sustain these efforts and to address health and safety concerns raised by legal service professionals, Ontario courts and tribunals are limiting in-person proceedings and making use of audio and video conferencing to hear priority matters remotely, where possible. Justice partners are working collaboratively to develop and deploy technology solutions and other innovative tools across the province to ensure urgent matters can be heard without needing to appear in person. This approach will also help to mitigate the potential impacts of possible service disruptions. Courts and tribunals are also deferring non-urgent matters until they can be managed safely and securely.

Ontario's judges and justices of the peace continue to prioritize critical matters such as criminal and child protection proceedings. There is strong collaboration across the system to ensure that urgent and priority legal matters continue to be heard before our courts and tribunals.

All Tribunals Ontario in-person proceedings, including at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, Landlord and Tenant Board and Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, are postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date. Where feasible, alternative hearing options such as written and telephone hearings will be considered. Front-line counter services will be closed until further notice.

We are also working very closely with our partners and colleagues in Ontario's court systems to ensure Ontarians can see justice done while also prioritizing the protection of public health in the province. The following actions have been taken across the justice system:

  • The Superior Court of Justice has suspended all regular court operations until further notice, while continuing to hear urgent matters during this emergency period.
  • All sittings of the Small Claims Court in Ontario are suspended until further notice.
  • The Ontario Court of Justice has established procedures to reduce the number of people who attend court in-person for criminal and family matters. All non-urgent matters have been adjourned.
  • All Provincial Offences Act matters scheduled up to and including April 3, 2020 will be adjourned and rescheduled to a later date. Tickets, fines or other court business may be handled online.
  • The Court of Appeal has suspended all scheduled appeals until April 3, 2020. During this period, urgent appeals will be heard based on either the written materials or remotely.

Keeping People Safe

We are committed to ensuring Ontarians remain safe and secure during this challenging time and are looking at all tools to help individuals and families stay in their homes. As part of this approach, the Ministry of the Attorney General has applied for a court order to suspend the enforcement of eviction orders. Tribunals Ontario will not issue any new eviction orders until further notice. Sheriff's offices have been asked to postpone any scheduled enforcement of eviction orders currently set for this week.

We want to thank our partners at the Superior and Ontario Courts of Justice, Tribunals Ontario, and the front-line workers across our justice system who are working hard to keep everyone safe and healthy while maintaining the administration of justice in our province.

Ontario takes the health and safety of court users, staff and the judiciary very seriously. As this public health situation evolves, the government is committed to providing Ontarians with safe and reliable access to critical front-line services, including supporting the delivery of justice at its courthouses and tribunals. We are closely monitoring developments and will continue to provide updates as the situation evolves."

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

CONTACTS

Hayley Chazan
Minister’s Office, Press Secretary, Ministry of Health
416-726-9941

David Jensen
Communications Branch, Ministry of Health
416-314-6197

Jenessa Crognali
Minister’s Office
Jenessa.Crognali@ontario.ca

Brian Gray
Communications Branch
416-326-2210
MAG-Media@ontario.ca

Ministry of the Attorney General
http://www.ontario.ca/mag

MARCH 18 UPDATE: Family Law Practitioners | Children's Aid Societies Suspending Certain Access Visits

Mar 19, 2020

This notice is being sent on behalf of the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Hamilton and the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton.

To view the FULL pdf version of this notice please click below:

https://www.hamiltonlaw.on.ca/docs/default-source/family-law/catholicchildrensaidsocietyofhamilton.pdf?sfvrsn=2

In response to growing concerns regarding COVID-19, effective March 17, 2020, the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Hamilton and the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend the following type of access visits:

  • All access visits occurring at the Society's office
  • All in-home or community access visits involving a Family Resource Worker
  • All access visits that require Volunteer Drivers

Please be advised that Child Protection staff will be making efforts to connect with clients and caregivers over the next few days to make arrangements for telephone and video contact to occur (where possible) during this period of suspension.

It is hoped that the above-noted types of access visits may resume as soon as possible, the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton and the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Hamilton will continue to assess COVID-19 developments as posted on the Hamilton Public Health website.


MARCH 18 | Law Society Ontario Corporate Statement RE: Client Identification

Mar 19, 2020
In the context of COVID-19, can a lawyer or paralegal use a virtual means of identifying
or verifying the identity of a client such as video conferencing or telephone?

At this time, the client identification and verification requirements of By-Law 7.1 continue to apply. However:

Lawyers and paralegals should review the information below as they do not need to
verify the identity of their clients for all matters.

If only client identification is required, lawyers and paralegals are able to comply with their professional obligations without meeting face-to-face or via video conference.

As a result of COVID-19, until further notice, the Law Society will interpret the
requirement that lawyers and paralegals verify the identity of their client face-to-face
as not requiring the lawyer or paralegal to be in the physical presence of the client.

Rather, alternative means of verification such as face-to-face verification via video
conference will be permitted. If lawyers and paralegals choose to verify identity clients
via video conference, they should attempt to manage some of the risks associated
with this practice as outlined below.

Current Requirements:
Because there is no obligation to meet with a client face-to-face to identify the client,
lawyers and paralegals should

Keep in mind the distinction between identifying and verifying the identity of a client:

Identifying the client means obtaining certain basic information about your client and any third party directing, instructing or who has the authority to direct or instruct your client, such as a name and address. You must obtain this information whenever you are retained to provide legal services to a client unless an exemption applies. This step can be done over the phone or by video conference. There is no requirement that it be completed face-to-face.

Verifying
the identity of a client means actually looking at an original identifying document from an independent source to ensure that your clients and any third parties are who they say they are. You are only required to verify the identity of your client and such third parties if you are involved in a funds transfer activity, that is, you engage in or instruct with respect to the payment, receipt or transfer of funds, and an exception does not apply. Assess whether verification of identity is required in the matter.

Verification of client identity occurs face-to-face unless

The individual whose identity is being verified is present in Canada and an attestation from a commissioner of oaths or other guarantor is provided; or
The individual whose identity is being verified is not present in Canada and verification is provided by an agent.

For more information, please review the Law Society’s Client Identification and Verification Requirements resources. For specific information about attestations or retaining an agent, please see Appendices 4, 5, 7, and 8. Managing the Risk of Face-to-
Face

Verification via Video Conference:
Where a lawyer or paralegal employs video conference as a means to conduct face-to-face verification of client identity instead of being in the physical presence of the client or by attestation or an agent, the following factors should be should be considered to help manage some of the risk:

Consider whether there are any red flags associated with fraud or money laundering, attempt to mitigate risk, and determine if they should proceed.
o To review these red flags, see the Federation of Law Societies’ Risk Advisories for the Legal Profession resource.
o Stay alert to the fact that persons may attempt to use situations like COVID-19 as an opportunity to commit fraud or other illegal acts and to be particularly vigilant for red flags of fraud or other illegal activities.
o Where virtual methods are chosen lawyers and paralegals must be particularly alert to these red flags to ensure they are not assisting in or being reckless in respect of any illegal activity.
o Lawyers and paralegals should document any red flags, what measures they have taken to mitigate that risk, and their decision on how they proceeded.
o If many red flags are present, lawyers and paralegals should consider whether they should proceed with the matter.
• Consider using another method of verifying identity that may reduce the risk of fraud or money laundering such as the dual process or credit file methods.
o For more information about these methods, review the Federation of Law Societies’ Guidance for the Legal Profession resource.

Can a lawyer or paralegal use virtual commissioning in the context of COVID-19?

Commissioning is governed by the Commissioners for Taking Affidavits Act and is not regulated by the Law Society. Although the law is evolving in this area, the best practice for commissioning documents remains for the lawyer or paralegal who is acting as a commissioner to be in the physical presence of the deponent to commission the document(s).

For more information, please review the Law Society’s Virtual Commissioning resource.
However, as a result of COVID-19, until further notice:

• The Law Society will interpret the requirement in section 9 of the Commissioners for Taking Affidavits Act that “every oath and declaration shall be taken by the deponent in the presence of the commissioner or notary public” as not requiring the lawyer or paralegal to be in the physical presence of the client.
• Rather, alternative means of commissioning such as commissioning via video conference will be permitted.
• If lawyers and paralegals choose to use virtual commissioning, they should attempt to manage some of the risks associated with this practice as outlined below.

Managing the Risk of Virtual Commissioning: If a lawyer or paralegal chooses to use virtual commissioning, the lawyer or paralegal should be alert to the risks of doing so, which may include the following issues:

• Fraud
• Identity theft
• Undue influence
• Duress
• Capacity
• Client left without copies of the documents executed remotely
• Client feels that they did not have an adequate opportunity to ask questions or request clarifying information about the documents they are executing.

To manage some of the risks:

Consider whether there are red flags of fraud in the matter. To review these red flags, see the Federation of Law Societies’ Risk Advisories for the Legal Profession resource.

Assess whether there is a risk that the client may be subject to undue influence or duress. If there is such a risk, consider if you are able to assist the client at this time without meeting in person.

Determine how to provide the client with copies of the document executed remotely.

Confirm your client’s understanding about the documents they are executing and provide adequate opportunity for them to ask questions during the video conference.

Be alert to the fact that persons may attempt to use the current circumstances and resulting confusion as an opportunity to commit fraud or other illegal acts. Where lawyers and paralegals choose to use virtual commissioning, they must be particularly alert to these red flags in order to ensure that they are not assisting, or being reckless in respect of any illegal activity.

MARCH 17 | Notice to the Profession Central South Civil Matters - COVID-19 Update

Mar 19, 2020
As a result of COVID-19:

• All civil matters set for trial, long or short motions, civil pretrials, and/or
trial scheduling court matters in March 2020 are automatically adjourned to June
2nd, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. to be spoken to.

• All civil matters set for trial, long or short motions, civil pretrials, and/or
trial scheduling court matters in April 2020 are automatically adjourned to June 3rd,
2020 at 10:00 a.m. to be spoken to.

• All civil matters set for trial, long or short motions, civil pretrials, and/or
trial scheduling court matters in May 2020 are automatically adjourned to June 4th,
2020 at 10:00 a.m. to be spoken to.

• All judicial telephone conference calls currently scheduled between now and
June 1st, 2020 will go ahead as planned.

Harrison S. Arrell
Regional Senior Justice – Superior Court of Justice
Central South Region

Public Health Service Recommendations

The Hamilton Law Association is taking steps to protect the health and safety of our members, volunteers, and staff, as well as the Hamilton community by monitoring updates provided by our health system partners, including Hamilton Public Health Services and the Ontario Ministry of Health.In addition, we are working to make recommended modifications to our service delivery and library and office environment.

To help prevent the spread of all types of respiratory illnesses, including influenza, Public Health Services recommends:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water;
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; if you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm;
  • avoid touching your face, eyes and mouth to prevent illness;
  • if you or your family members are ill, stay home;
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces; and,
  • get the flu shot, if you haven’t already done so.

The Hamilton Law Association willcommunicate to members any updates with respect to Association related activities.