More than 10,000 Canadians received a medically-assisted death in 2021: report
Quebec Superior Court suspends Bill 96โ€™s translation requirement until constitutionality determined
The Ontario government has given Maggie an ultimatum: the disabled teen can lose her funding or her independence
FBI took 11 sets of classified material from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home while investigating possible Espionage Act violations (US)
Ontario class action settlement reclassifies volunteers as employees, setting new precedent
Availability of Judicial Review in SABS Disputes
Are masking policies still valid?
Justice Canada releases commission report on impact of lack of legal aid in family law disputes
Harmonized sales tax part of maximum amount of attendant care benefits owed by insurer: court
New rules coming next month to help Canadians with cancelled and delayed flights
Stephen King set to testify for govt in books merger trial (US)
New law program in Quebec to begin next fall, a first in 50 years
The Impact of the Lack of Legal Aid in Family Law Cases
SCC rules that when someone is required by their partner to wear a condom but do not, they could be guilty of sexual assault.
Big Plastic suing feds over single-use ban โ€” again
Tim Hortons offers coffee and doughnut as proposed settlement in class action lawsuit
The SCC has refused to hear the appeal to declare the renewal of the state of health emergency by the Quebec government invalid
Federal privacy commissioner investigating controversial ArriveCAN app
Kraken, a U.S. Crypto Exchange, Is Suspected of Violating Sanctions (US)
Ontario court certifies class action on former patients’ anxiety from notice of risk of infection
The stakes couldn’t be higher as Canada’s top court decides whether to hear climate class action lawsuit
Professor Barnali Choudhury selected by EU as trade and sustainable development expert
The Supreme Court decision on the โ€˜Ghomeshiโ€™ amendments will help sexual assault victims access justice
AFN Reaches $20 B Final Settlement Agreement to Compensate First Nations Children and Families

Ontario family lawyers to return to courtrooms beginning in April: Superior Court

Return to in-person hearings may slow cases, raise divorce costs, and affect justice access: lawyer.


PHOTO: Russell Alexander is a family lawyer


The Superior Court of Justice has announced that family lawyers will return to in-person court hearings for parts of the divorce process, including case conferences, long motions, settlement conferences, and trials, starting Apr 19 at the presiding judgeโ€™s discretion.

Hearings that do not require a settlement will be conducted remotely or via a hybrid approach. Lawyers will continue to use CaseLines, the electronic filing system for administrative hearings, like first appearances and procedural and substantive motions.

Family lawyer Russell Alexander says the experience of going to a courthouse is very solemn and has been an important legal tradition for 100 years. Therefore, โ€œthe courts view it will be easier for lawyers to settle cases physically in the courthouse than at home because of the seriousness and decorum in the formality of the proceeding.โ€

While many lawyers naturally like to gather and meet in person, Alexander says the decision to return to in-person hearings may delay cases and raise the cost of a divorce.

The biggest complaint about the justice system about family law before the pandemic was that it was slow, Alexander says. โ€œIt took too long to get a court date, and it was too expensive.โ€

He says many complaints were addressed when the court pivoted to digital and zoom hearings, making family legal proceedings more efficient. This move saved clients thousands of dollars, and he says lawyers did not spend much of their time waiting in court. For example, lawyers could stay the whole day in court for a case conference before the pandemic.

โ€œThere will be other matters, and you need to wait your turn, and the judge may want you to go to the hallway to negotiate some issues and come back after lunch,โ€ he says. โ€œWith Zoom hearings, your matter starts at 10, and it usually ends in 45 minutes or an hour, so that five or six-hour day is down to an hour.โ€

One of the goals in family law is to save time and expense, and โ€œwe need to question whether or not turning to in-person hearings will accomplish that goal,โ€ he says.

Alexander says virtual family proceedings made the justice system more accessible to the public because lawyers were better available. In addition, legal aid clients in small rural communities who had difficulty finding lawyers could receive representation from other parts of the province that accepted legal aid.

Before the pandemic, he says it sometimes took weeks for a lawyer to meet up with a client. โ€œWhen Zoom divorce came in, that freed up our time because we werenโ€™t at the courthouse all day, and when clients phone us, we are able to meet with them the same day or within the next day.โ€

Due to virtual proceedings, lawyers can accept cases anywhere in the province and help their clients. However, if the courts ask to return to the courthouse, Alexander says they will not be able to do that anymore, limiting peopleโ€™s choices when choosing a lawyer.

Lawyers will likely only take cases within an hour of our office because anything beyond that would not be economically efficient, he says.

โ€œItโ€™s not economical for us to drive six, seven hours to a courthouse and then back again; it would be too expensive.โ€

There are a lot of efficiencies that the digital process enabled, but the court has decided that in-person interaction and advocacy and participation are more important than some of the obtained advantages, he says.

Want direct access to the latest LITN content?

Stay in the loop โžž Subscribe to LITN instant notifications.
Receive the latest content delivered directly to your device.
Unsubscribe at anytime.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I agree to LITN's Terms & Conditions.

Latest News


Join the LITN Newsletter โžž the latest news delivered to your inbox. Unsubscribe at any time.


Instagram Feed