Videoconference Pilot Project For Solicitor-Client Assessments

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What is the videoconference pilot project?

Recent amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure provide for an 18 month pilot project that permits parties in Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, Fort Frances, Dryden, Kenora, and Cochrane to have solicitor-client assessments heard by videoconference.

How does the pilot work?

A party may request that a solicitor-client assessment proceed by videoconference. If the assessment officer approves the request, the parties will be notified of the hearing date.

How do I request that a solicitor-client assessment proceed by videoconference?

Either party may request that a solicitor-client assessment proceed by videoconference. Court staff will provide you with a Videoconference Request under Rule 1.08.1, which you would complete, serve on the other party and file with the court within two days of filing the notice for an assessment hearing.

On the Videoconference Request under Rule 1.08.1, you must provide information about the proceeding, such as an estimate of the hearing length, how many exhibits and witnesses are anticipated, and why the proceeding should proceed by videoconference. The consent of other parties is not required. Once your request is submitted to the court, staff will forward it to the assessment officer. The assessment officer must approve the request before a videoconference assessment hearing can be scheduled.

What if I want to object to a videoconference hearing?

The procedure for obtaining a solicitor-client assessment hearing by videoconference is governed by Rule 1.08.1 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.  Consent of the other party is not required to proceed by videoconference.  You may object to a videoconference in writing within two days of being served with the notice.  If you wish to object to a videoconference request, court staff will provide you with an Objection to Videoconference under Rule 1.08.1. The assessment officer will consider any objection made, the balance of convenience between the parties, and any other relevant matter in deciding whether to grant a request for videoconference.

Once the videoconference assessment hearing is scheduled, how and when do I get my materials to the assessment officer?

Copies of any exhibits or documents intended for the assessment hearing must be served on the other party and filed with the court in which the request was made at least five days prior to the hearing date. All documents must be clearly identified for ease of reference. Court staff will forward these documents to the assessment officer prior to the hearing. You must still bring your original documents and exhibits to the hearing.

Does the pilot apply to other types of hearings presided over by an assessment officer?

No. The pilot only applies to solicitor-client assessments at this time.

What benefits are there to a party for proceeding by videoconference?

By providing an opportunity to have an assessment heard by videoconference, assessments can be scheduled more frequently and parties will not have to wait for the assessment officer to travel to their court location for their assessment to be heard.

The Ministry of the Attorney General appreciates your feedback!

Brief questionnaires will be provided at each videoconference hearing. We would appreciate if you would complete and submit them at the conclusion of the hearing so that we may effectively evaluate the pilot.