Trial By Wire: The Courts Introduce a New System for Hearings by Video Call
The Courts in Toronto have introduced a new tool, with the intention of making proceedings more accessible and less costly for people using the system. Video conferencing will now be available for 9:30 am appointments on the Estates List in the Toronto Region.
Consent or unopposed matters and scheduling orders in Toronto Estates List matters can be dealt with at 9:30 scheduling appointments, which take place in the chambers of the presiding judge. This required counsel to appear in Court on the morning of the hearing, to sign in, and then to wait to be heard. While our offices are right across the street from the Courts, many lawyers would need to brave rush hour traffic and the hunt for parking in order to make it to court in time and then travel back to their offices when the hearing is finished. Scheduling appointments rarely take more than five or ten minutes, but lawyers can sometimes spend over an hour waiting to be seen by a judge. The need to attend in person adds to the cost of litigation and makes the legal system more difficult to access for those of limited means. The savings are more dramatic where parties or their lawyers are from elsewhere in the province.
The new system allows for parties to dial in using CourtCall. CourtCall is a video conferencing service run by a third-party provider.
In order to use CourtCall, parties or their lawyers will need to set up an account at courtcall.com before the hearing. When confirming the hearing, the user will need to indicate that he or she will be attending by CourtCall. Two days before the hearing, the user will need to log into the website and set up an appearance. Written confirmation will be provided by CourtCall, so that you know that it has been booked. Payment of a fee to CourtCall is required.
On the scheduled day, the person calling in needs a camera attached to a computer and a phone. Fifteen minutes before the hearing, the user must log in on the CourtCall website and then call the phone number provided by CourtCall.
Other forms of video conferencing may also be used, but they must be pre-approved by the Court. The Court has introduced a new practice advisory setting out the details of the CourtCall process and advising when and how it may be used.