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Monday April 6, 2020

Ontario Court of Appeal Finds Ways to Hear Appeals During COVID-19

Authored by: Terrance G. Sheppard Posted in: COVID-19 Family Law

Unlike Nova Scotia, the Ontario Court of Appeal is allowing parties who had scheduled appeals to request their appeal be heard in writing. Information can be found here. In contrast, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal has adjourned or postponed all hearings that were scheduled for May/June with no option to proceed in writing. Information can be found here.

In Carleton Condominium Corporation No. 476 v. Wong, 2020 ONCA 244 (“Carleton Condominium”), the Ontario Court of Appeal conducted a teleconference on April 2, 2020 to rule on whether the appeal should postpone until the fall or continue, either based on the written material alone, with a full oral hearing by teleconference, or some other means.

The Ontario Court of Appeal held, “It is in the interests of justice to have the appeal proceed in writing based on the materials filed. The parties will have an opportunity to respond, by teleconference, to any questions the panel may have, on the date set for the appeal, April 9, 2020.”1

The Court decided the appeal could fairly proceed in writing since one of the parties was a lawyer and the written materials filed by both parties were professionally prepared.2 The issues were also capable of being decided in writing, the Court of Appeal held.3

The Court stated that even if the appellant had a preference to present his arguments during an in-court oral hearing, this was not in the interests of justice.4 Specifically, delaying the appeal would be prejudicial to these parties and the overall court system. At paragraph 7, the Court noted:

[7] Moreover, it is not in the interests of justice to overburden the court by adjourning matters that can be dealt with fairly, as scheduled. The backlog that will be created by cases that must be adjourned to protect the public and ensure fair hearings will be imposing and it should not be unnecessarily aggravated.

The court also held that they would not have a full, oral hearing by telephone conference, but rather, the parties would only be given the opportunity to respond to any questions by the panel of judges hearing the appeal. The court held that completing the entire oral hearing by teleconference would lead to a litigation advantage for one party, as the other did not have the knowledge or infrastructure to proceed given the COVID-19 pandemic.5

To discuss your unique situation amidst COVID-19, talk to Terrance G. Sheppard or a member of our Family Law team. Request your free 30-minute consultation via phone or virtual meeting platform (Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, etc.). 

This is legal information and is not intended to be legal advice.


1 Carleton Condominium Corporation No. 476 v Wong, 2020 ONCA 244 at para 2.

2 Carleton Condominium Corporation No. 476 v Wong, 2020 ONCA 244 at para 3.

3 Carleton Condominium Corporation No. 476 v Wong, 2020 ONCA 244 at para 3.

4 Carleton Condominium Corporation No. 476 v Wong, 2020 ONCA 244 at para 5.

5 Carleton Condominium Corporation No. 476 v Wong, 2020 ONCA 244 at para 8.

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