April 15, 2020 Practice Points

Canadian Courts Employ Virtual Hearings

On April 17, 2020, a Canadian court will hold a hearing using Zoom technology organized through Arbitration Place.

By Daniel Urbas

For those interested in just how Canadian courts organize procedural hearings and maintain the public nature of those hearings in the new normal, read the brief endorsement issued April 1, 2020, by Mr. Justice David L. Corbett in Nation Rise v. Minister of the Environment, 2020 CanLII 25863 (ON SCDC). The details involve a virtual hearing scheduled for April 17, 2020, using Zoom technology organized through Arbitration Place.

[2] The hearing will be conducted as a video conference. ZOOM technology will be used. The hearing will be run through Arbitration Place. The parties may expect to hear from Arbitration Place about the arrangements and for information about how the hearing will be conducted

[3] Neither counsel nor the court will gown for the hearing. Instead, business attire is required for anyone with a speaking role in the hearing. All parties must ensure that they participate in the videoconference from appropriate surroundings and that they (and the Court) will not be interrupted or disturbed during the hearing. . . .

[6] It is currently anticipated that the hearing will follow a webinar format and will accommodate up to 500 members of the public. Particulars will be confirmed to the parties by Arbitration Place and in due course by the court.

A skilled arbitral venue, Arbitration Place has an enterprise business license for Zoom, but is not committed exclusively to Zoom and accesses other platforms, too, such as Teams and Telemerge. With its IT protocols, it retains flexibility to supply the best technology to suit the case and developments. Subsequent to the endorsement, Arbitration Place confirmed that it will stream the hearing through a private YouTube channel. The information will be made available to the public via the Superior Court and counsel to the proceedings.

Though not explicit in the endorsement, given the nature of the proceedings, the mention of “panel” likely refers to a three-member panel of the Divisional Court. For a related decision on interventions in the same case, see Nation Rise Wind Farm v. Ontario, 2020 ONSC 1153.

Daniel Urbas is an experienced arbitrator and mediator at Urbas Arbitral in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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