Supreme Court of Canada streamlines the process to seek leave to appeal

  • January 25, 2021

Amendments to the Supreme Court of Canada Rules came into effect on January 27, 2021, aimed at simplifying the process to apply for leave to appeal and facilitating electronic filing.

“With these amendments, an application for leave to appeal will consist of the notice of application, lower court decisions and memorandum of argument only,” the court says. “This new process will also facilitate the electronic filing of leave application materials. Service requirements for the electronic versions of these materials will be less stringent. The number of print copies required will also be reduced.

The high court also announced that it’s no longer mandatory for parties to use an Ottawa agent for appeals, though they are free to do so if they wish.

The CBA’s Supreme Court of Canada Liaison Committee helped the court come to this decision. In 2018, it surveyed members who had appeared before the court as counsel or acted as agents, or both.

“Overall, the majority of respondents favoured an optional role for agents moving forward,” the Committee said in a letter reporting the results of the survey to the court. While many thought the ability to file electronically means there is less need for agents, and others worried about the cost, nearly 70 per cent said the role of agents is important.

“The ability to serve agents and have them quickly acknowledge service is seen as an advantage, particularly in large files with large numbers of parties and interveners.”