Legal and Justice System Updates

Rapid developments surrounding COVID-19 are deeply concerning but Canadians can be assured that the justice system continues to function on their behalf and the rule of law prevails. That said, all courts are taking measures to adapt as required. Canadians who are engaged in judicial events, are encouraged to consult their respective court website before attending any court matter. Read more.

Thursday, July 23

Fast-track Settlement Conferences

On July 21, 2020, the Tax Court of Canada introduced a fast-track settlement conference process. This process will not require parties to have made a written offer of settlement as outlined in Practice Note No. 21. If parties wish to use the fast-track settlement conference process, they must file a joint written request with the Court. The fast-track settlement conference process will be available to parties temporarily to help alleviate the backlog caused by the Court’s closure.

Please consult Practice Note 24 for principles and procedures of the fast-track settlement conferences including: conditions of eligibility, how parties can apply, how fast-track settlement conferences will be scheduled and what happens if the parties fail to settle the appeal.

 

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Tax Court of Canada - Notice to the Public and the Profession, Practice Direction and Order

Notice to the Public and the Profession

The Court reopened for the transaction of business on July 6, 2020, including the Court’s Registry offices, except for Hamilton.

The Court’s sittings will resume on July 20, 2020. Conference calls may resume earlier. Any sittings and conference calls scheduled to occur as of the date of this Notice will proceed as scheduled, with the exception of sittings outside major centres.

The period beginning on March 16, 2020 and ending on September 4, 2020, inclusively, will be excluded from the computation of time.

The Court will not be issuing Orders for new timetables with adjusted dates. Parties are asked to adjust the timetable issued by the Court before March 16, 2020 in their proceedings by adding 173 days to all dates scheduled in the timetable.

Response deadlines to Registry Correspondence will be extended in the same manner as the suspension of time described above, meaning that the period beginning on March 16, 2020 and ending on September 4, 2020, inclusively, will not be included in the computation of time for the response deadline.

The Court will treat all Notices of Appeal filed after the statutory deadline during the period beginning on March 16, 2020 and ending on September 4, 2020, inclusively, as including an Application for an extension of time to appeal brought on the exceptional grounds that the Applicant was prevented by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Court closure from filing within the normal statutory deadlines.

Once sittings resume, COVID-19 will continue to create difficulties related to the itinerant nature of the Court, courtroom space and judicial operations generally. For these reasons, the Court will hold only hearings in named locations for the remainder of 2020 (see Notice)

All motion days are suspended for the time being.

If possible, the Court shall conduct online or teleconference proceedings for: Case management conferences, Status hearings, Pre-trial conferences, Motions without witnesses and Applications without witnesses.

There will not be online proceedings for Appellants who are representing themselves or being represented by an agent, unless an Appellant submits a request in writing. There will also not be online or teleconference proceedings where witnesses will be giving evidence; these will be held in person.

Practice Note No. 23, which describes the Court’s pilot project for Preliminary Ruling Dockets, will be amended to extend the pilot project by an additional year and now be scheduled to end on December 31, 2021.

Please consult full Notice to the Public and the Profession for further details.

Practice Direction and Order

By its order dated July 8,2020, the Tax Court of Canada excludes the period beginning on March 16, 2020, and ending on September 4, 2020, inclusively, from the computation of time.

The Court also orders that all Notices of Appeal filed after the statutory deadline during the period beginning March 16, 2020, and ending on September 4, 2020, shall be treated as including an Application for Extension of Time to Appeal.

It also orders that upon being advised of this fact by the Registry when served with a Notice of Appeal, the Respondent will confirm to the Registry within 60 days of service that the appeal was filed after the statutory deadline but that the Respondent consents to the application; or, after the statutory deadline and that the Respondent opposes the application.

It further ordered that to the extent that this Practice Direction and Order conflicts with the Practice Directions and Orders issued between March 16, 2020 and May 27, 2020, this Practice Direction and Order shall prevail.

Please consult full Practice Direction and Order for further details.

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Federal Court - COVID-19 Order: Update #5 (amended) 

The Federal Court issued an amendment to the June 25 Order (COVID-19), with two changes:

  1. For greater certainty, timelines continue to be suspended during the additional 2-week buffer period, such that they will begin to run again on June 30 for the Western and Eastern provinces and on July 14 for Ontario, Quebec, and the three territories (for example, if a party in Ontario had three days prior to March 16th to take a step, the new deadline would be July 16th).
  2. The requirement established under the Court’s previous COVID-19 Order dated April 4, 2020 for a party to file, after the end of the Suspension Period, a printed copy of an affidavit that was e-filed during the Suspension Period is vacated. In accordance with the Annex – Electronic Legal Service and Electronic Filing in the Federal Court, parties shall keep a copy of all affidavits sent electronically for 30 days after the expiry of all appeal periods.
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Consolidated COVID-19 Practice Direction and Order  (June 25, 2020) 

On June 25, 2020, the Federal Court issued a practice direction which consolidates the particular provisions of COVID-19 practice directions and orders dating back to March 13, 2020 that remain in force.

The Court also ordered that:

The Suspension Period will expire at the end of the day on June 29, 2020 in Ontario, Quebec and the three territories. 

Timelines for the filing of documents and the taking of other procedural steps in proceedings in those provinces and territories are extended to July 13, 2020. The provisions of this paragraph do not apply to proceedings that are, or will be, moving forward pursuant to one of the five exceptions described in paragraph 5 of the Practice Direction and Order (COVID-19): Update #2 (April 29, 2020).

Parties to proceedings in which a hearing has been adjourned as a result of an Order establishing or extending the Suspension Period shall provide the Judicial Administrator with their mutual dates of non-availability up to December 18, 2020. For Western Canada and Atlantic Canada, such dates should be provided no later than June 29, 2020. For Ontario, Quebec and the territories, such dates shall be provided no later than the close of business on July 13, 2020.

Pursuant to s. 53(2) of the Federal Courts Act, and subject always to the discretion of the Court to apply the best evidence requirements, affidavits sworn or affirmed remotely using modes deemed acceptable in any Superior Court of any province shall be accepted for filing during the Suspension Period. 

Except to the extent set forth above, the Orders issued by the Court on April 4, 2020 and April 29, 2020, May 29, 2020 and June 11, 2020 remain in effect.

Please consult Practice Direction and Order (COVID-19): Update #5 (June 25, 2020) for details.

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FCA - Weekly list of selected cases 

Further to its announced gradual phase-out of the Suspension Period, the Federal Court of Appeal released its first list of selected cases on June 22, 2020 for which time will begin to run on Monday, June 29 2020. These cases are withdrawn from the application of the Suspension Period.  It is hoped that, as officers of the as officers of the court, legal counsel on files involving self-represented litigants will take steps to inform those self-represented litigants of the lifting of the suspension period and of the fact that time will begin to run. New lists will be published every Monday. 

Please consult the list of recent cases for details.

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FCA - First list of selected cases: Gradual Phase-Out of Suspension Period

On June 11, 2020, the Federal Court of Appeal announced the gradual phase-out of the Suspension Period in effect since March 19, 2020.

On June 22, 2020, the Court has released its first list of selected cases for which time will begin to run on Monday, June 29 2020. These cases are withdrawn from the application of the Suspension Period.

New lists will be published every Monday

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Practice Direction and Order (COVID-19): Update #4 (June 11, 2020)

Given the evolving health and safety conditions presented by the COVID-19 pandemic which differ significantly across the country, the Court has amended its procedures. The COVID-19 risks are significantly less in Western Canada and in Atlantic Canada than they are elsewhere.

The Suspension Period described in the May 29th practice direction will expire in the four provinces of Western Canada and the four provinces of Atlantic Canada on June 15, 2020. Timelines for the filing of documents and the taking of other procedural steps in proceedings in those provinces are extended to June 29, 2020. These do not apply to proceedings that are, or will be, moving forward pursuant to one of the five exceptions described in paragraph 5 of the Practice Direction and Order (COVID-19).

The Suspension Period in Ontario, Quebec and the three territories will be extended until June 29, 2020. All matters previously scheduled to be heard at a special sitting from July 11, 2020 through July 26, 2020 are adjourned sine die.

General Sittings in Western and Atlantic Canada remain cancelled until July 12, 2020. General Sittings in Ontario and Quebec remain cancelled until July 26, 2020. Upon resumption of General Sittings, all motions made returnable will be heard by videoconference or teleconference until further notice.

Pursuant to the April 4th Practice Direction and Order, court fees were waived effective April 6th, 2020. This waiver will expire across Canada on June 29th, 2020.

Please consult the full Practice direction and Order for complete details.

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NOTICE TO THE PARTIES AND THE PROFESSION

Subject to any further Notice, the Suspension Period applies to and is extended indefinitely for all files commenced in the Federal Court of Appeal before or after the date on which this Notice is issued.

The Suspension Period will be lifted for certain selected files which will be posted on the Court’s website on June 22, 2020. New Selected Files will be added to the list every subsequent Monday. The Suspension Period for a Selected File will end on the first Monday after the Selection Date.

A party may bring a motion under Rule 369 for a Selected File to be deselected and made subject to a Suspension Period; or for a file subject to a Suspension Period to be made a Selected File.

Time will begin to run under the Federal Courts Rules, orders and directions from the Monday following the file’s appearance on the Selected Files List. For the purposes of computing time, the Monday on which the Suspension Period ends will not be counted.

Until public health advice in a particular jurisdiction allows in-person hearings, the Court will continue to hear proceedings remotely, by online video-conference, teleconference or in writing.

Measures are underway to gradually increase the onsite presence of Registry personnel as of Monday, June 29, 2020, to the extent allowed by public health authorities.

Please consult the full Notice for further details.

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Update on income tax filing deadlines and penalties

On 25 May and 1 June 2020, the Canada Revenue Agency announced additional tax return filing deadline extensions for corporations, trusts, and partnerships along with late-filing penalty relief. More specifically, the updates concern corporate income tax returns (T2) trust income tax returns (T3) and information declarations, choices, designations and requests for information among others. The CRA’s update also confirms that late-filing penalties and interest will not apply, provided the respective returns and administrative tax action described in the update are filed, and payments are made, by the extended deadline.

Please see full update for more details.

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Federal Court - Practice Direction and Order (COVID-19): Update #3

On May 29, 2020, the Federal Court of Canada extended its Suspension Period until Monday June 15, 2020. Timelines for filing documents and taking other procedural steps will be extended to Monday, June 29, 2020.  The Court will not hold in person hearings until Monday, July 13, 2020. Except to the extent described in the attached Practice Direction, the April 29th Practice Direction as well as the Updated Practice Direction and Order (COVID-19) dated April 4, 2020 (as amended) remain in force.

Please see full update for more details.

Notice extending Federal Court of Appeal  suspension period to Monday, June 15

Notice extending Federal Court of Appeal  suspension period to Monday, June 15.

Please see full update for more details.

TAX COURT OF CANADA NOTICE TO PUBLIC AND PROFESSION

Further to a new Practice Order and Direction and Notice to the Public and the Profession dated May 27th, 2020, all Tax Court of Canada sittings and conference calls scheduled between July 6 and July 17th, 2020, inclusively, are cancelled. Parties affected by these cancellations will be contacted directly by the Registry staff in the coming days. At this time, sittings that are scheduled beyond August 17th, 2020 will proceed.

Please consult the Notice to the Public and Profession for details.

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Extended Income Tax filing and payment deadlines

On 22 and 25 May 2020, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) released an update on the personal tax return (T1) filing deadline and the application of late-filing penalties. In particular, the CRA has announced that late-filing penalties will not apply to any 2019 T1 return filed by 1 September 2020, provided the related tax balance is also paid by 1 September 2020.

Please see full update for more details.

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Tax Court of Canada Notice to Public and Profession

Until a new Practice Order and Direction, and Notice to the Public and the Profession, are issued on or before May 27th, 2020, all Tax Court of Canada sittings and conference calls scheduled between June 1st and  July 3rd, 2020, inclusively, are cancelled. Parties affected by these cancellations will be contacted directly by the Registry staff in the coming days. At this time, sittings that are scheduled beyond July 3rd, 2020 will proceed.

Please consult the Notice to the Public and Profession for details.

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Legislative proposals to address legislative time limits and deadlines issues

On May 19, 2020, the Department of Justice published draft legislative proposals, outlining potential solutions to be implemented to address Covid 19 pandemic legal repercussions faced by Canadians and Canadian businesses should they fail to meet deadlines and time periods set by law with respect to legal proceedings and some key regulatory matters. The draft legislative proposals could suspend certain time limits and enable federal ministers to extend or suspend other time limits included in federal legislation. They also include provisions to ensure that temporary extensions or suspensions cannot be made after September 30, 2020, and could be retroactive to March 13, 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic officially began.

The draft legislative proposals will be available online for 10 days. Interested stakeholders are welcome to share their comments. 

Learn more

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The Supreme Court of Canada announces appeals to be heard in June

The Supreme Court of Canada announced on April 29, 2020 that the hearings scheduled for June 2020 will take place by video-conference. All other hearings postponed due to COVID-19 will be heard in the regular fall session, which will begin the week of October 5, 2020. Please see full news release for list of June hearings and confirmed September cases.

Learn more

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Federal Court: Practice Direction and Order (COVID-19): Update #2 (April 29, 2020)

This Practice Direction and Order amends the Federal Court’s April 4th Practice Direction and Order.  It extends the Suspension Period until May 29, 2020 and expands the range of matters that it is prepared to adjudicate by teleconference, video conference, or in writing. The Court will not hold hearings until June 29, 2020. Timelines for filing documents and taking of other procedural steps will be extended by 14 days following the end of the Suspension Period, to June 12, 2020. Please consult the notice for full implementation measures.

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E-service measures for service on the Crown

To minimize the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the justice system, the Department of Justice has put in place temporary e-service measures for service on the Crown. To initiate service on the Crown, the Attorney General of Canada or any other Minister of the Crown, the public or their legal representative can now serve the appropriate Justice Canada regional office by email or fax. The Crown will accept materials received via e-service. Please see full notice for details on how to sue the Crown in the Federal Court or Provincial Court.

Please note that documents to garnishee a federal employee's salary must be served in accordance with the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act. They must be served at the appropriate garnishment registry set out in the Garnishment and Attachment Regulations.

Learn more

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Tax Court of Canada update

According to the present Practice Order and Direction, the Tax Court of Canada has further cancelled its judicial sittings and conference calls until May 29, 2020 inclusively. It excludes the period beginning on March 16th, 2020, and ending on the day that is 60 days after the Court and its offices reopen for the transaction of business, from the computation of time under its Rules and all Notices of Appeal filed during this time shall be treated as including an Application for Extension of Time to Appeal. Upon being advised of this fact by the Registry when served with a Notice of Appeal, the Respondent will confirm to the Registry within 60 days of service that the appeal was filed.

Practice Direction and Order

Notice to the Public and the Profession

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The present notice extends the Federal Court of Appeal’s suspension period until May 15th, adjourns hearings scheduled from mid-April and for the duration of the suspension period while announcing additional measure in response to the current and evolving situation. Cases that are selected to progress may be determined on the basis of written material or by teleconference or video conference. The Court will issue directions to move cases forward that are not yet ready to be determined, though selected. For cases not selected to progress, the parties may request on consent to have them heard remotely.

Learn more

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Competition Bureau: Competitor collaborations during the COVID-19 pandemic

The  Competition  Bureau advises that where there is a clear imperative for companies to collaborate in the short-term to respond to the current crisis, where those collaborations are undertaken and executed in good faith and do not go further than what is needed, it will generally refrain from exercising scrutiny.

At the same time, the Bureau wishes to underline that it has zero tolerance for any attempts to abuse this flexibility or the guidance offered herein as cover for unnecessary conduct that would violate the Competition Act.

In response, the Bureau has created a team to assess the proposed collaborations and advise the Commissioner on what informal guidance the Commissioner might provide. The aim of this team will be to facilitate rapid decisions to enable business to support the crisis response efforts.

Further information on any proposed collaboration.

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Federal Court Notice : Updated Practice Direction and Order (COVID-19) / Avis de la Cour fédérale : Mise à jour de la directive sur la procédure et ordonnance (COVID-19)


Today, the Federal Court issued an Updated Practice Direction and Order (COVID-19)  which  supersedes the Practice Direction and Order dated March 17, 2020.


Aujourd’hui, la Cour fédérale a émis une Mise à jour de la directive sur la procédure et ordonnance (COVID-19). Ce document annule et remplace la Directive de pratique et ordonnance datées du 17 mars 2020.

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Temporary wage subsidy for employers

The federal government’s temporary wage subsidy for employers has been evolving. Now, many small and medium-sized law firms will be eligible.

The initial announcement offered a subsidy of up to 10% and limited eligible employers to non-profit organizations, registered charities, and Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPCs) whose taxable capital employed in Canada for the preceding taxation year was less than $15 million.

Bill C-13, adopted in Parliament on March 25, expanded the definition of eligible employers to include individuals (other than trusts) and partnerships:

a person or partnership that

  1. employs one or more eligible employees;
  2. (has, on March 18, 2020, a business number in respect of which the person or partnership is registered with the Minister to make remittances required under this section; and
  3. is any of
    1. a Canadian-controlled private corporation for the purposes of section 125 that
      1. would have a business limit for its last taxation year that ended before the start of the eligible period greater than nil, if the amount determined for paragraph 125(5.‍1)‍(b) were deemed to be nil, or
      2. if the corporation does not have a taxation year that ended before the start of the eligible period, would meet the condition in clause (A) if its taxation year ended immediately before the start of the eligible period,
    2. an individual (other than a trust),
    3. a partnership, all of the members of which are described in subparagraphs (i) to (iii) or (v),
    4. a person exempt from tax under Part I because of paragraph 149(1)‍(l), and
    5. a registered charity.

The government announced on March 27 that the wage subsidy will be up to 75% for qualifying businesses, for up to three months, retroactive to March 15. More details on eligibility criteria will be available soon and will start with the impact of COVID-19 on sales.

We will post details on this and other programs as soon as they are available.

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Supreme Court of Canada cases scheduled for hearing in March, April and May are adjourned, tentatively, to the month of June 2020. Read more.

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The Tax Court of Canada has cancelled all sittings and conference calls scheduled to May 1, 2020. The period from March 16 to May 1st, 2020 is excluded from the computation of time under the Rules and Order or Direction of the Court made before March 16. The Chief Justice will continue to monitor and reassess the situation on April 14, 2020. Read more.

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Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada front offices are closed, meaning that hand-delivered correspondence is no longer accepted. COVID-related measures are in place to grant temporary extensions. Read more.


The Social Security Tribunal is not holding in-person or video hearings. Teleconference hearings are not impacted at this time. Read more.

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The Commissioner of Competition released information on impacts to the Bureau’s enforcement processes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.


The Canadian Judicial Council has compiled information from superior court and court of appeal websites across Canada. Read more.


The Federal Court of Canada has issued Practice Direction and Order (COVID-19), further restricting the scope of its operations in the coming weeks. Read more.


The Tax Court of Canada has issued Practice Direction and Order, cancelling all its judicial activities through March 27, 2020. Read more.


The Federal Court of Appeal has issued Update on Court Operations in light of COVID-19, adjourning all scheduled hearings through April 17, 2020. Read more.


Each Court, tribunal and board is determining its COVID-19 response. Please check with the relevant court, tribunal or board for the most up-to-date information.


Courts and Tribunals