Tax Court's plans to resume operations

  • June 08, 2020

Dear Friends,

I am writing on behalf of the Tax Court of Canada Bench & Bar Liaison Committee, a national committee of the Canadian Bar Association. We provide a forum to raise issues of tax court practice with the Tax Court judges, the Courts Administration Service, the Department of Justice Tax Law Services and tax lawyers.

How the Tax Court Plans to Resume its Operations

On June 4, 2020, the Committee held a special virtual meeting with the Tax Court. The Court provided an update on how it plans to resume its operations. Currently, the Court remains closed and does not know when the Government will allow staff back on the premises. Therefore, the Court is unable to indicate when precisely it will be able to resume its operations. However, subject to any complications arising from the actual public health crisis and numerous factors over which the Court has no control, the Court is planning to resume its operations as follows:

  • Hearings will resume on July 27, 2020 for general procedure appeals, and August 17, 2020 for informal procedure appeals;
  • Appeals, motions and other matters presently scheduled to be heard on August 17, 2020 or later will proceed as scheduled;
  • Additional sittings will be scheduled starting July 27, 2020 in order to address hearings that were adjourned or cancelled due to the Court’s closure. Priority will be given to the continuation of appeals that were interrupted and general appeals that were adjourned on a “first case adjourned/cancelled, first case rescheduled” basis;
  • In informal procedure appeals, notices of hearing will be sent to the parties at least 30 days prior to the date of hearing. In general procedure appeals, Hearings Coordinators will contact the parties to reschedule the appeal, ideally in the same timeline;
  • As per the Amended Direction and Order of May 27, 2020, and subject to any overriding statute that may be enacted by Parliament, the period beginning on March 16, 2020, and ending on the day that is 60 days after the Court and its offices reopen for the transaction of business is excluded from the computation of time under the Tax Court of Canada Rules (General Procedure), all other rules made under the Tax Court of Canada Act as well as Orders and Directions from the Court. Parties should factor this suspension into the computation of the time period within which they must complete litigation steps.

Fast Track Settlement Conference System

With a view to reduce the backlog of appeals that has accumulated due to the actual crisis, the Court will offer a fast track settlement conference system. The key features which will be more precisely set out in a Practice Note can be summarized as follows:

  • It will be a temporary system for general procedure appeals only;
  • It will be available only if both parties agree to it;
  • Parties who are interested will file a joint conference request brief to which they will attach the pleadings, and in which they will expose the key issue(s), their respective position, the basis for their position and the amount of tax at issue. The brief will be written in the official language in which the parties will want the settlement conference to be conducted;
  • A judge will determine whether the appeal is suitable for the fast track settlement conference system;
  • If the appeal is considered suitable, the judge will contact the parties, provide them with a date for the conference, indicate who will need to attend the conference and make any other request deemed necessary to ensure that the conference proceeds efficiently;
  • The judge will also determine whether the conference will be held virtually or in person in Vancouver, Montreal or Toronto;
  • Settlement conferences under the fast track system will take place in October and November 2020; and
  • Should the matter fail to settle, the judge who presides the settlement conference will not preside over the trial.

The Court expects to issue a practice note regarding the fast track settlement conference system later this month and aims at accepting requests in late July. Similarly, the Court will issue other practice notes and orders as necessary to keep parties and their representatives apprised concerning the Court's reopening.

CBA members who appear before the Tax Court are always welcome to send us their feedback on issues of importance to their practice before the Court. I strongly invite you to provide your comments, concerns and suggestions regarding the Court’s resumption of its activities. You may do so by replying to this email or contacting any of the Committee members directly.

Stay well,

Nathalie Goyette